Press Releases


In A Flash: SFAI Alumni Exhibition Features Tattoo-Inspired Work By Alumni Including Don Ed Hardy

The history of tattooing has a multiplicity of origin points that converge to tell the story of human history: treacherous waters once crossed, love that both begins and ends, wars that were fought, and better yet symbols of hope, desire, and lust. In A Flash is an exhibition of works that consider the transit of images across bodies. Like a traveling storyteller, tattoos function as an embodied narrative of both the wearer and the artist only to be experienced in person. Each artist in this show distills the collision of these worlds into a set of symbols and motifs that draw on this history while remaining relevant to our contemporary experiences. 

Flash, indicative of its name, was meant for speedy and infinite applications but the practice of tattooing has taken on many forms throughout history and continues to be reinvented namely through customized designs. Grounded in the work of San Francisco Art Institute alumnus, Don Ed Hardy, this exhibition surveys the artistic practices that serves as the basis for tattoo work while examining the range of application and personal meaning a tattoo can have to its wearer. In SFAI’s tradition of interdisciplinary practices, these alumni utilize a number of mediums in contemplation of the power behind an indelible mark. 

The impermanence of the body is laid out in clear contrast to the permanence of ink through rotting tattooed fruits and photographs of heart surgery patients. The process of tattooing is revealed through self-portraiture of the artist and their tools, and made visceral through needlepoint drawings on stuffed arms. Traditional illustrations show new interpretations of old archetypes through contemporary flash sheets, blurring the line between the beginning of a portrait and the edge of a skull. In A Flash brings into full view a legacy of SFAI artists pushing the limitations of what fine art is and does, and how we are permanently marked by the hand of the artist. 


Exhibition Details: 

On view: June 29 - July 28th
Opening Reception with Introduction by Don Ed Hardy (BFA 1967): July 4th

Diego Rivera Gallery | SFAI—Chestnut Street Campus

Participating Artists: David Carter, Bryon Christman, Gracie CT, Genevieve Dupre, Rebecca Finley, Don Ed Hardy, Peter Koval, Krisztina Lazar, Sai Li, Rene Lopez, Michael McCabe, Maxx Newman, Laurent Trelaun, Benji Whalen, and Barnaby Williams.


In A Flash was organized by San Francisco Art Institute with the Office of Alumni Relations. Special thanks to SFAI President Gordon Knox; Vice President of Operations and Facilities Heather Hickman Holland; Alumni and Donor Relations Manager Brianna Hyneman; Manager of Exhibitions, Events, and Partnerships Kat Trataris; and Chief Preparator Robin Beard. 


In A Flash was made possible in part by gifts from the following alumni donors. SFAI is grateful for the support of donors to the Annual Fund. Join them in supporting our work. 

Juana Schurman and Tony Ligamari*
Rives Granade*
Carolyn Zecca Ferris* and Timothy Ferris
David Dworman*
Mike Chambers*

* SFAI Alumni  


SFAI’s Exhibitions and Public Programs are made possible by the generosity of donors and sponsors. Program support in 2018-19 is provided by the Harker Fund of The San Francisco Foundation, Institute of Museums and Library Services, Grants for the Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, Creative Work Fund, Koret Foundation, Pirkle Jones Fund, Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation, and Fort Point Beer Company. Ongoing support is provided by the McBean Distinguished Lecture and Residency Fund, The Buck Fund, and the Visiting Artist Fund of the SFAI Endowment. 


@sfaiofficial #sfaiofficial #inaflash