While tattoos are often associated with rebellion and counterculture, the act of permanently marking skin has been commonplace throughout human history. In 1991, a 5,200-year-old mummified iceman was discovered in Europe, his body riddled with dots and small crosses. Upon review, researchers came to believe the tattoos might have been employed in a therapeutic capacity to alleviate joint pain. While this is the earliest known example, tattooing has been used across just about every civilization since and for a variety of reasons, including as status symbols, indicators of religious beliefs, punishments, and creative expression. Today, tattooing has entered a new stratosphere of popularity, with tattoo art crossing over into fine art and vice versa.
Now through November 2, the Lighthouse ArtCenter in Tequesta will explore the evolution of this ancient art form in “Tattoo: The Renaissance of Body Art.” The special exhibition will boast original art by Ed Hardy; photographs of tattoos; vintage flash tattoos from primitive, tribal, and modern cultures; and contemporary 2-D and 3-D tattoo-inspired works, many of which will be available for purchase. Antique tattooing equipment and custom motorcycles by Ron Finch will also be on display. Next month, on October 17, the Lighthouse ArtCenter will present a complementary fashion show featuring garments by Bosha Stone designed to accentuate tattoos.