The Alma Mater Project idea was created by Ben Wicker, an MC alumnus of the class of 2003. The concept of a group tattoo project had been shared with Ben in 2004 while at the University of South Florida. At that time, he was made aware of a project called Skin by Shelly Jackson. He had been contemplating an MC tattoo for some time, but did not want an athletic tattoo necessarily and, upon remembering Skin, thought that applying the same concept to the College's Alma Mater would be great. The music and words were always very impactful to him as a student and still are as an alumnus and staff member.
The media coverage of the project started with a Highland Echo article by participant and writer, Evy Linkous. This article, because of a relationship the Echo had at the time with USA Today College, was picked up on their front page. With that, local media outlets WVLT-channel 8 and The Knoxville News-Sentinel covered the story of the project. I was also contacted for a story by a student reporter at The Daily Orange at Syracuse University. As the project was drawing to an end and the gallery was up in the Clayton Center’s La Dolce Vita gallery, The Daily Times and The Highland Echo did additional stories.
The gallery, displaying 40 photographs of the tattoos, was up on display beginning at Maryville College’s Homecoming events in 2016 until just after J-Term of 2017. The photos on these pages are the same that were displayed in the gallery, many just cropped to see the detail of the tattoos. A special thanks to MC student Rachel Britt for helping to edit and format the photos.
BY THE NUMBERS
388 People joined in the project's Facebook group
39 Participants got tattooed
22 Interested participants had to back out of the project
15 Participants got their project tattoos at Studio 617 in Maryville, TN
14 Current or former MC Athletes participated in the project
13 MC Class years participated, ranging from 2002-2019
9 Members of the Class of 2015 participated, the most of any class
9 Participants chose this project as their
3 Homecoming Queens and Kings participated in the project
Athletic Teams/Groups Represented
Soccer, Volleyball, Football, Tennis, Basketball, Softball, Cheerleading, and Dance Team
Campus Organizations Represented
SGA, SPB, APO, SLK, The Highland Echo, Chilhowean, RAs, Up ‘til Dawn, Bonner Scholars, Judicial Board, Peer Mentors, GSA, LSA, BSA, Ambassadors, Study Abroad, RHA, Bradford Scholars, Kappa Delta Pi, ODK, Sigma Delta Pi, Mountain Challenge, EAT, Alpha Gamma Sigma, Literacy Corps, ALANA Scholars, Sigma Tau Delta, FCA,
Tri-Beta, Circle K