Surface is everything in "Second Skin: Drawings," Susan Moore's show of people wearing tattoos.

This display at La Salle University of 24 works in graphite, ink, and watercolor on paper presents a non-art look that is startling. And that approach can be associated with what is startling about new art in general.

Fundamental to Moore's art are her attempts to make the invisible visible. What that means is that she's interested in the invisible that lies hidden in the world of appearances - aspects of our surroundings we're aware of, but tend to brush aside. The tattoo subject is, of course, very much tied to its specific historical moment here and now.

Certainly, vast numbers of young men and women have taken to wearing tattoos - a far cry from the rugged sailors and fearsome pirates of yore traditionally linked with that old-time practice. Could it be that tattoos are a refuge, as the old saying goes, "any port in a storm"?

Moore sees today's powerful tattoo trend as a reaction to the speed of communication and uniformity of the digital age: Many individuals feel moved to assert their identity and suggest certain personal qualities by decorating their skin.

Portrayals by this artist, who comes to the task as a strong figure painter and portraitist in mid-career, show guys and gals lightly sketched in, their tattoo designs boldly indicated, as if floating.

Each anonymous person strikes a natural pose to best show off his or her markings, and Moore, a former Navy brat whose father had no tattoos, sometimes edits the more intricate designs.

Moore has been attracted largely to surface and the almost invisible details that structure our environment. Yet she has done this without ever abandoning the emotive or intuitive. Could her "Second Skin" inquiry be counted as an art of the people?

La Salle University Art Museum, 1900 W Olney. To May 29. Mon-Fri 10-4, Sun 2-4. Free. 215-951-1221.

PAFA artists

The show "Five Artists of Accomplishment From Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts" at Somerville Manning Gallery features 1965 to '81 painting grads.

All belong to galleries and are gaining stature and recognition, and abstraction is surprisingly to the fore here. Murray Dessner and Bill Scott see to that ably - Dessner dominating with a sensory power and presence and fine color resonances in large seasonal abstract canvases.

Scott is suave, crisp, and elegant in loosely geometric compositions with their spirited chatter of color. Scott uses abstract shapes so the canvas becomes a kind of territory in which diverse, blocky shapes interact with one another (and not just with the viewer).

Especially memorable, too, is Alex Kanevsky's assured rendering in oil on Mylar of a nude model that has moments of real beauty.

Somerville Manning Gallery in Breck's Mill, 101 Stone Block Row, Greenville, Del. To April 18. Mon-Sat 10-5. Free. 302-652-0271.

New media exhibit

"Articulture," first of Delaware County Community College's planned biennial art festivals, is up and running.

Its "New Media in the Performing & Visual Arts" exhibit features objects, photos, and videos by 11 artists from the region and beyond.

Arts faculty-hosted, the display ranges from Jeff Aaronson's "speaking" portrait photos of persons seeking relationships via Internet personal ads, and globetrotting Tiong Ang's slow-motion video by a traveling nomadic observer overseas, to Hadieh Shafie's videos exploring lives of Iranians who fled the 1979 revolution.

James Mayhew's collages of human interaction aim to bring people together in public conversations, and Carlos Ferraris' staged images are dreamlike and unsettling. This is an ambitious, informative launch.

Delaware County Community College, 901 S Media Line Rd, Media. To April 17. Mon-Fri 9-5. Free. 610-359-5014.