Words by Andrew Harrison
Photography by Laura Coulson / Styling by Santi Rodriguez
There’s dedication to your craft, and then there’s dedication. Tattooed on the lower back of Kelsey Lu – avant-garde cellist, North Carolinian turned Brooklynite, and junction box between the worlds of Etta James, Björk, Minnie Riperton, PJ Harvey and Lauryn Hill – are the twin f-holes of a traditional cello.
Kelsey Lu was inspired to get this particular ink by Man Ray’s famous photograph of his lover Alice Prin, the 1920s Parisian art-world habitué, model and erotic icon better known as Kiki de Montparnasse. In the surrealist image Le Violon d’Ingres, Kiki too is adorned with the sound-projecting portals of a cello, the picture at once a visual pun on female beauty and an ambiguous statement on sexuality and freedom. The woman becomes an instrument, but whose instrument?
“I saw that image when I was a lot younger and it was in my mind for a long time,” explains Kelsey Lu. “I thought, ‘That’s got to be my first tattoo.’ I love that image. It says everything. Like
the cello, it follows me everywhere.”