Steed Taylor

From Blue Prints, To Road Prints & Blood Prints


Road Tattoos
Road Tattoos? Because roads are the skin of a community, a road is to the public body what skin is to the private body.  If people mark their skin as a means of commemoration, communication and ritual; then a road can be marked for the same reasons. I am interested in the intersection of memorials, ritual and public art.  I have been investigating how personal emotional significance can be placed on a public space and how this emotional resonance can be manifested in public artwork. My Road Tattoos are a result of this investigation.

Road Tattoos are placed at locations of personal significance and are composed of cultural designs previously appropriated to mark skin.  Once the design is drawn on the road, names or other specific information is painted within the design, a prayer is said and the design is painted in, covering over the names.  They are subtle, usually close in color to the roadway, but made with reflective paint causing them to appear and disappear with passing light.   Eventually traffic and weather conditions dissolve them into the road.

Evelyn's Knot, SW 7:30AM (reflecting morning light)
Media:  black hi-gloss latex, names and prayer   
Year:  1997    Size:  8' x 60'

Description:  This piece commemorates the lost and support a family experienced with a recent death.  The reflective quality of the hi-gloss latex causes the piece to appear and disappear in the changing morning sun.


Carnal Bend (looking towards Yankee Stadium)
Media:  black hi-gloss latex on asphalt road, names and prayer    Year:     2003   Size: 20' x 165'
Description:   Located in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx, NY, an area notorious for illicit sexual activity and a hot zone for HIV transmission, this piece acknowledges the individuals trapped by their desire to come to area nightly.  Artists Space, the Puffin Foundation and the Bronx Council On the Arts funded this piece.

Liar's Knot, detail (looking towards the north end)
Media:  black hi-gloss latex on asphalt road, names and prayer    Year:     2003  Size: 12' x 200' 

Description:   Commissioned by the Atlantic Center for Art in Florida, this piece explores the gray area between truth and lies by commemorating a group of self-professed liars.  The design for this piece feeds back in on itself, mimicking the way a lie can return to haunt a liar.   The 150-foot central portion of the piece is framed on either end by two 25-foot smaller knots spaced about 30 feet.  The first smaller knot was for the names of people who have never lied and second smaller knot was for the names of people who did not know the difference.  No names were in either knot.

Blood Prints

Having a terminal or chronic illness is a personal horror. As you struggle to remain healthy, death waits impatiently in the next room to meet you.  Having AIDS is living with long-term terror.  If you do not die quickly and are lucky, you will be dependant on a difficult medical regiment with extensive side effects.  You are a danger to those around you and to those you love. The way you make love changes forever.  You can no longer visit certain countries or practice some professions.   You are stereotyped whether you like it or not.  Public complacency and dwindling government support leave you isolated, making the terror you feel all the more personal and private.  All the while, Death waits impatiently in the next room to remove you from your life.

Cutting and marking the body commemorates, and sometimes defies, significant and traumatic events in out lives.  With AIDS, it is a way to reclaim ownership of your body and gain self-empowerment over this very personal terror living within you.  Cutting takes pieces of your fear and magnifies it, allowing you to exert control over your fear in a deliberate and controlled way.  What is specifically unique about cutting is the resulting triumph over the fear at the source of the terror because of the extent to which cutting breaches the body.   You must enter the body to make the cut, which in turn, causes blood, the fluid of life, to flow.   It is an aggressive act but it confronts the fear of AIDS head on.