Scar artist visits to remind medical students that patients are people

Broken Back
Broken Back by Ted Meyer

TED MEYER’s career as an artist was succeeding beyond his dreams. Though he was often in great physical pain — a result of Gaucher disease — his paintings were critically acclaimed, shown in galleries around the world.

Then, in his mid-30s, he lost his muse: He had begun a newly available treatment for Gaucher disease, and his symptoms vanished.

He felt great, he said, but as an artist he was lost — until a conversation at an art opening with a woman in a wheelchair wearing a backless dress that showed a long scar running down her spine. Though partly paralyzed, she was nonetheless an actress and dancer. Their meeting set him on a new course: creating art that tells the stories of survivors of health crises.

Scarred for Life: Monoprints of Human Scars” began when Meyer printed the dancer’s scar — a result of surgeries to repair damage from the zipline accident that had paralyzed her. He added details to the print with paint and color pencil and paired the result with a photograph of the dancer showing the scar slathered with paint on her back.

Meyer, this year’s Sterling Visiting Professor in the Department of Chemical & Systems Biology, will be at Stanford through Aug. 17 to speak and lead workshops that continue telling those stories. His aim, he said, is to round out the medical profession’s view of patients’ lives.

The talks and workshops at Stanford, listed below, are open to the public:

  • Talk: A Patient Life, 4-6 p.m. Aug. 14 in Munzer Auditorium at the Beckman Center
  • Workshop: Scarred for Life, 10 a.m. Aug. 15 in Rooms 4105-4107 of the Center for Clinical Sciences Research The event will feature a roundtable discussion on the representation of scars and the meaning and stories behind them, as well as the creation of prints of workshop participants’ scars
  • Workshop: The Collective Experience – Charting Illnesses That Have Touched You, Your Family and Friends, 10 a.m. Aug. 16 in Rooms 4105-4107 of the Center for Clinical Sciences Research
  • Talk and presentation: Art and Med, 4-6 p.m. Aug. 17 in Munzer Auditorium

Read more on the School of Medicine news site.