TATTOO WITNESS includes 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. Linda Benedict-Jones, the first Photography Curator at the Carnegie Museum of Art contributed the book’s insightful Forward.
In 2005 photographer Mark Perrott learned that Pittsburgh's Western Penitentiary, located just downriver from the city center, was about to close. He requested permission to visit the 1885 Gothic sandstone structure, and ended up touring the site with a former Pennsylvania Department of Corrections administrator. They walked through spaces of confinement and institutional organization like the Mess Hall, Laundry, Commissary, Chapel, Death Row, and the cellblocks. Mark recalls, "None of this prepared me for the experience of E Block - the row of cells dedicated to the housing of newly-arrived prisoners. Prisoners spent three days to two weeks on E Bock, until the system 'classified' them along to other cellblocks, or to other institutions. Each cell had whitewashed walls, most often covered with graffiti. I read every square inch of each wall. These were the unfiltered voices of men in their first days of separation and incarceration. As I moved from cell to cell, these voices became a chorus of shame, rage, bravado, advice, hate, humor, confession, and contrition. Over the next year I wrote down each word and photographed every surface." This is Mark's record of E Block. Purchase on Amazon
Eliza: Remembering a Pittsburgh Steel Mill
For 122 years, the massive Jones & Laughlin Steel blast furnace, nicknamed "Eliza," belched fire and smoke into the Pittsburgh skies. It employed over 5,000 people and symbolized the Steel City's greatest industrial power. In 1977, the plant was closed and eventually razed. In recording the demolition of Eliza, photographer Mark Perrott evokes the spirit of a vanished industrial heritage. 56 duotone photographs. Purchase on Amazon
Hope Abandoned: Eastern State Penitentiary
Eastern State Penitentiary, located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, opened in 1829 to international acclaim. Architect John Haviland designed this landmark experiment in architecture and building technology to embody Quaker ideals about institutional reform, civic responsibility, and criminal behavior. The Penitentiary was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1965; it closed in 1971, and was abandoned for over twenty years. The Penitentiary has found renewed life as a historic site and educational facility under the management of the newly created Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site, Inc. Hope Abandoned features photographs and quotes taken long after the last door was locked and sealed. According to Perrott, his images of the decrepit and decayed prison depict the "awful beauty of this mostly dark and profoundly disturbing place." Purchase on Amazon