Shana Ye
We found faculty members who wear their hearts on their skin and asked them the (sometimes dreaded) question: “What does your tattoo mean?” (Photos by Alexa Battler)
Tuesday, May 14 - 2019
Alexa Battler

Shana Ye, assistant professor, Women's and Gender Studies

Shana Ye's tattoos
Ye's largest tattoos are of Persephone on her right inner forearm and Narcissus on her left. 

Shana Ye got her first tattoo at 15 years old — a seahorse, which she later covered up with a pair of comedy and tragedy masks.

“The masks are about seeing, like you put on a show and have different masks that you wear,” she says. “Eventually, if you become these masks, you are lost.”

All of Ye’s tattoos are linked to philosophical ideas about looking and seeing. 

Her two largest tattoos incorporate her lifelong interest in Greek mythology. On one forearm is Narcissus, the infamously self-obsessed character known for staring constantly at his own reflection. 

In Ye’s tattoo, Narcissus is shown without his fabled mirror.

“It’s like narcissism undone,” she says. “It was kind of that idea that when you’re looking at yourself, you do want to see yourself, but also you don’t want to be lost in your own reflection.”

On her other arm is Persephone, the goddess of spring Hades famously kidnapped and married. For three months every year, Persephone is permitted back to Earth to visit her mother, Demeter, goddess of agriculture. According to mythology, winter comes while the goddess is busy with her visit. 

“This is also related to how you deal with your past and how you deal when you are trapped somewhere and can’t move freely,” Ye says. “It’s about how you deal with your relationship with the past.”

Read more:

Inked @ U of T Scarborough: ADON IRANI

Inked @ U of T Scarborough: Lewis Kaye