Dead Saskatoon tattoo artist's skin put on display, travelling across Canada

SASKATOON — Before he died, Chris Wenzel always talked about travelling across Canada with his wife.

Cheryl Wenzel of Saskatoon is now planning that trip from Vancouver to St. John's, N.L., to show off frames of her late husband's preserved tattooed skin.

It was a wish the heavily inked, tattoo artist left for her to fulfil before he died of an illness last October.

A U.S. company that preserves tattoos removed the completed designs from the 41-year-old's body and, after months of waiting, Wenzel recently received four frames showcasing the colourful designs on her husband's body.

The artwork was unveiled at a tattoo expo in Saskatoon and will next be displayed at a conference in Vancouver. The plan is to take the designs on tour to the east coast.

"It's giving myself and my children strength and courage to keep on moving on," Wenzel said this week.

"Through honouring Dad's wishes and to see the pride that he would have with us doing this for him."

Reflecting on her late husband's unusual request, Wenzel, who comes from a family of fur trappers, said at first they joked about it.

"I said, 'Oh yeah, I'll skin your ass. Don't step out of line.'"

The whole idea was mind-boggling, she said.

Her family's story has garnered widespread attention and a range of reactions from inspiration to disgust, Wenzel said.

She said she has always been someone to push the limits and hopes that her family's story can encourage people to be respectful.

"I always say to each their own," she said.

"Keep an open mind when you're listening to other people's stories."

— By Stephanie Taylor in Regina

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