Ancient Ink: Photographs by Mark Perrott

The exhibition ANCIENT INK by photographer Mark Perrott opens June 23, 2017 and will be on exhibit in the Erie Art Museum’s Bacon Gallery through January 28, 2018.

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”x50”) photographs and accompanying interviews, Perrott introduces the viewer to dozens of individuals, including Brian, a retired steelworker and “ink addict” from the 1970s; 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.”

Pittsburgh native Mark Perrott has worked as a professional photographer for fifty years, and as an adjunct instructor in photography at Carnegie Mellon University for the past twenty years. In addition to his commercial work, which includes portraiture and photography for annual reports, Perrott has spent his life making photographs that document Pittsburgh’s citizens and its rich industrial landscape. In the early 1980s, he gave special attention to the life and death struggle of steel in Pittsburgh’s Monongahela Valley, with a special focus on the Jones & 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. In 1999 he published 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 on Pittsburgh’s Western Penitentiary, highlighting the staggering statistics of incarceration in America. Perrott’s photographs are included in numerous museum collections, including the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, The Westmoreland Museum of American Art, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

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