Today, I met my friend Ted for lunch. Ted is an artist whose work ranges from whimsical pictures of cats to semi-abstracted paintings of human figures in great pain or pleasure to his powerful Scarred for Life series. For this series, Ted takes mono-prints directly off the skin of models scarred by spinal surgery, mastectomies, bullet wounds or amputations. The models choose their own colors and Ted then adds details with gouache and color pencil, creating delicate abstract compositions in which the incision mark becomes a bold stroke emanating richly colored energy. Next, he photographs the models with the same paint color on their scars and includes their own story of the scar and its affect on their lives. The combination of print, photograph and words are powerful visual documents of human healing and resilience, depictions of brave personal victories, from the graceful dancer who continues to dance from her wheelchair to the devoted mother who survives a mastectomy to raise her twin sons. In 2013, I wrote about his work for KCET Artbound and his work moved so many people that the story was made into a video that was included on one of their tv episodes (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5bixGXFVCow).
Ted understands about pain and healing. He was born with Gaucher’s disease, a rare genetic disorder that causes pain and deterioration of the joints and organs, and he spent much of his childhood in hospital. Art helped him cope with his condition. After studying design at college, he began painting works that reflected his constant battles with his body, his pain and the sense of being trapped inside a damaged shell. Years later, thanks to successful hip replacements and improvements in medical treatments, Ted is healthy and is a busy artist, creating art, working as a designer, traveling the country giving talks about his work and signing his hilarious cat books series (http://www.tedmeyer.com). I wanted to give him something artistic that both reflects his quirky, playful side but also relates to his work on the Scarred for Life series that I admire so much. What I chose was a round little African gourd that has a spiraling pattern carved into it – kind of like a scar, I thought. I knew it was a bit of an odd gift, but I knew that someone as unique and creative as Ted just might appreciate it.
And he did!