Pierced Hearts & True Love Forever
Hearts, roses, daggers, pin-ups, anchors, birds – at the turn of the twentieth century NYC tattoo parlors hung pre-designed flash (paintings and drawings for tattoos) on the walls for predominately male customers. Born out of maritime culture, tattooing was a way for knock around guys to symbolically testify their undying love for women (mom, dream girl), country (eagle, flag), voyage (tall ship) and vice (bottle of poison). Traditional American tattooing was a familiar visual language that was straightforward, easy to decipher. And the process of getting a tattoo was fast, simple, forever.

Today flash is more complicated; tattooists have their own take on it. With a wink and a nod, it could be argued that we are in an era of post-flash. It still hangs on shop walls, but mass produced commercial designs are easy to come by. In an age of mechanical reproduction, there are many variations of traditional American flash in circulation. At the same time, tattoo artists draw and paint sheets that are singular and inventive. Flash is a medium for artists to stretch their style – part of their process. Pierced Hearts & True Love Forever explores the range in which contemporary tattoo artists translate flash. It’s an aesthetic home to deftly refined insects, psychedelic female pharaohs, disemboweled pin-ups with unraveling intestines, and human-faced tigers.

Featuring Daniel Albrigo, Olivia Britz-Wheat, Virginia Elwood, Michael Kortez, Fernando Lions, Ashley Love, Dusty Neal, Tamara Santibanez, Tasha Rubinow, Tron, Will Sheldon, Simon Velez

Pierced Hearts & True Love Forever is an homage to the Drawing Center’s exhibition Pierced Hearts and True Love, which opened twenty years ago in 1995.