Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Crow and Octopus

The crow is my first tattoo. I did it to honor my grandmother (who was my best friend). It is based on one of Aesop's fables about a thirsty crow who finds a pitcher with water in the bottom, but it can't reach the water. The crow drops stones into the pitcher, raising the water level until it can get a drink. (A skill that scientists have observed in corvids!) The moral is variously about the value of persistence and creativity. I sketched the idea and had the original work done for my 45th birthday. A few years later, I found a different artist to fix and enhance the piece (adding the ivy and correcting the geometry of some of the lines). I'm finally happy with it.

The octopus is my second tattoo. It was a gift from me to me for my 48th birthday. I like to joke that it is my mid-life crisis tattoo (better than an extra-marital affair or a sports car). I designed it and got it done without seeking anyone's input or approval. It makes me feel brave because it is in a place that is conspicuous. I've always loved octopuses (yes, that is the correct plural). They are incredibly smart, resilient, and clever. I am fascinated by their ability to change color and texture to virtually become one with their surroundings. The female stays with her eggs, fanning them with her tentacles until they hatch, and then she dies. I can't understand why such an awesome creature lives fewer than 5 years.

Cheryl Downes McCoy
Exhibit Developer
Oakland, CA


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks! I should credit the artist Cedre Csillagi at Diving Swallow in Oakland for her incredible work.

  2. As a child I was enamored with this fable. The fable has even more meaning to me know as I recognize the brilliance of crows is actual and that Aesop recognized this so long ago.