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to march 2007

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Artists’ drawing on others’ pain for inspiration is an old trick, but it’s one to which Ted Meyer adds some unexpected color. His latest exhibition, “Scarred for Life,” is a collection of 35 mono-prints showing scars—from accidents, disease, even a failed suicide attempt—that forever altered their bearers. Created by applying a model’s inked skin directly to paper, and then accentuating with gouache and color pencil, each print walks a blurred line between abstract art and medical diagram, an effect heightened by the exhibition’s venue: the National Museum of Health and Medicine at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, which counts among its macabre exhibits the bullet that felled Abraham Lincoln. One image, Lost Finger Due to Band-Saw Accident, features a blue handprint as delicate as one left on a frosted windowpane; the jolt comes as you realize the hand in question is missing a digit. The works feature starkly clinical names—Hip Replacement Due to Severe Arthritis (pictured), Lung Removal After Suicide Attempt—that reinforce how each scar comes with its own history. Meyer, a Los Angeles–based painter and illustrator who was born with Gaucher disease, a genetic condition that necessitated two hip replacements and a spleen removal, was quoted recently as saying that scars “freeze a moment in time, a car accident or gun shot.” The exhibition is on view from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily, to March 2007, at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, 6900 Georgia Ave. and Elder St. NW. Free. (202) 782-2200. (Nick Kolakowski)