Mark Perrott: Ancient Ink

May 5, 2019 - December 31, 2019
A photo of an older woman with a hat and patterned shirt wearing glasses that has a tattoo of cooking utensils wrapped in a ribbon

About The Art

Please join photographer Mark Perrott for a talk and book signing, Saturday afternoon, November 23rd, 1-3pm, at The Butler Institute of American Art. Perrott’s most recent book TATTOO WITNESS is the culmination of his forty-year odyssey documenting the ever-expanding tribe of tattooed Americans.

TATTOO WITNESS comprises 140 black and white portraits along with excerpted interviews that introduce us to these subjects, and provide insight and perspective into the life events and choices that moved them to get their first tattoo. Book designer Joe Petrina’s remarkable pairing of words and images, sometimes sympathetic, sometimes ironic, gives a wonderful vitality to the book.



Mark Perrott has spent decades documenting the ever-expanding tribe of tattooed Americans. He made his first portraits at Island Avenue Tattoo in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1979, and since then has explored tattoo parlors all across America. In his current series, ANCIENT INK, Perrott turns his camera to the now increasing tribe of highly decorated, aging, and graying baby boomers. Through large scale (50” x 50”) photographs and accompanying interviews, Perrott introduces the viewer to dozens of individuals, including Jim, a retired city planner and “ink addict” from the 1970’s; Marge, a 74 year-old former Cleveland police officer; and Henry, an 87 year-old WWII era Navy veteran. “These subjects,” Perrott says, “speak of resilience, loss, transformation, mystery, and the emancipation that sometimes comes with growing old.”

Visit Mark Perrott’s website for more images and information on Ancient Ink.



Pittsburgh native Mark Perrott has worked as a professional photographer for the past fifty years. In addition to his commercial work, which includes portraiture and photography for annual reports, Mark has lifelong, made photographs that document Pittsburgh’s citizens, and its rich industrial landscape.  In the early eighties, he gave special attention to the life and death struggle of “steel” in the Mon Valley, with a special focus on Pittsburgh’s Jones and Laughlin steel mill and its Blast Furnace Department, informally known as “Eliza.” Photographs from this project were used to create the book ELIZA, published in 1989, by Howell Press. He went on in 1999 to publish HOPE ABANDONED, a four-year investigation of Eastern State Penitentiary, located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 2013 he published his third book, E BLOCK, an extended photo essay of Western Penitentiary. Mark’s photographs are included in the permanent collections of a number of museums, including the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, The Butler Institute of American Art, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

CATEGORIES: Exhibition

DATE: May 5, 2019 - December 31, 2019

LOCATION: Flad Gallery

RECEPTION: November 23rd 1-3pm

Selected Works


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