While tattoos have infiltrated popular culture, to some they will always remain taboo.
"I think the stigma, at a very base level, is because the Bible tells us not to," Gohde said. Much of the project's backlash comes from people quoting the book of Leviticus: "You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the Lord."
On the flip side, the artists say the project has galvanized pride in Lexington.
"What we hope for is to create a community of people who are connected to each other but also to Lexington," Todorova said.
The Lexington Tattoo project will premiere in the fall with a short film that highlights each tattoo; it will also unveil a hidden image built within the circle patterns surrounding the tattoos.
The final tattoo will be completed in the coming weeks.
The poet's mother-in-law will get a tattoo that says "by Bianca Spriggs."