Steed Taylor: Road Tattoos and Community

Daughters and Sons Knot

Rusa Rugosa

Road tattoos are commemorative, site-specific, community- based, tattoo-inspired, public artworks on roads and are a key part of my studio practice, sort of the soul of it.  I have made about 45 and recently expanding the concept into 3D as seen in my first image. I make drawing and painting based on them. Schematic diagrams used to layout the designs on the road become artworks as well as fodder for mixed media works and prints.

Road tattoos are a result of my investigation into repurposing a common public space for art and a desire to bring socially engaging art to where people live. But what exactly are they? If roads are considered the skin of a community, then a road has a similar relationship to the public body as skin does to the private body. As people mark their skin as a means of commemoration, communication or ritual; then a road can be marked for the same reasons. Some of the most salient issues in public art are explores in this work - the private relationship to public space, strategies of aestheticization, moral unity and the inclusion of contemporary experience - framed within the cultural back drop of America car culture and our love of the road. I honor people and topics in needed additional consideration, remembrance, appreciation or awareness. I have honored soldiers killed in our recent wars, victims of domestic violence, community activists and many, many other people and topics. 



Knot for Joshua Tree




Orange Community Knot

G.Family Knot

About-Steed Taylor
Born in Cumberland County, NC, I was educated the University of North Carolina, American University and Skowhegan.  My museum shows include the Bronx Museum, Mint Museum, San Bernardino County Museum, North Carolina Museum of Art, The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Nasher Museum of Art and the Neuberger Museum of Art's Biennial of Public Art.  I have shown at commercial galleries in the NYC area quite a bit and in Miami with Ambrosino Gallery and in Rome with Il Ponte Contemporanea.  Recent commissions for my public art include the cities of Boston, MA, Chicago, IL, Washington, DC, Arlington, VA and New Orleans, LA as well as Riverside Park in New York City, Florida State University and Columbus College of Art & Design.  Recent lectures include the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.  My art has been discussed in publications as varied as Art In America to Playboy Magazine.