Known for their modern, collagist style, an alternative to the traditional and more familiar black lines and shading, Duskin’s tattoos are closer to freeform watercolor paintings on skin. Her technique involves minimal design, drawn without a frame or background, while considering the subject’s whole body and contours.
“Contemporary culture seems to be moving in the direction of greater acceptability, and millennials are very comfortable with individual expression and style,” says Duskin, who has been creating art on bodies for more than two decades. “There are many more accepted options in fashion and personal adornment, and I have benefitted from this evolving open-mindedness.”
Traditionally a boys' club, the tattoo arts have become more open to women in recent years, Duskin says. “As the demographics interested in tattooing broaden and the technology becomes more user-friendly, I believe it can only continue to diversify.”
Her work has been executed and shown nationally and internationally at museums, universities, and art fairs. Duskin has also been featured in books such as BBC Culture's Tattoos: 150 Years of Body Art and Margot Mifflin's Bodies of Subversion: A Secret History of Women and Tattoo.
Like many artists who use themselves as subjects, she has inked a couple of large pieces on herself. “My stomach, which I tattooed, and leg (a collaboration with Jesse Smith) are coverups over the first tattoos I got as a teenager.” She has reimagined the pieces and transformed them from what she considers early “mistakes.”
Duskin acknowledges the intimacy and connection involved in tattooing others and has established a close rapport and even some lasting friendships with her clients. “The person being tattooed undergoes stress and pain in the process, and that experience of vulnerability tends to open up opportunity for sharing more personal feelings and experiences,” she affirms. “It wasn't traditionally a rite of passage for nothing.”
Thea Duskin at Aqua Art Miami. 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday, December 7, through Saturday, December 9, at the Aqua Hotel, 1530 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; aquaartmiami.com. Admission costs $25 for a one-day pass, $20 for seniors and students aged 12 to 18, and $95 for a three-day pass.