Ted Meyer: Scarred For Life – Through September 17th
Meaning in Bronze – Through October 8th
Oceanside Museum of Art
704 Pier View Way
Oceanside CA 92054
Article by Cathy Breslaw
The Oceanside Museum of Art shares its location in Oceanside, California with Camp Pendleton, the major west coast base of the United States Marine Corp, and a significantly sized community of military families and veterans. The current exhibitions Healing Journey: Veterans and Artists Unite is the result of a natural connection and provides the broader San Diego communities with an awareness and understanding of the physical, psychological and emotional experiences that being in the military brings to its active duty and veterans. Through the restorative powers of creating art, the exhibition Meaning in Bronze, gives audiences glimpses into the thoughts and feelings of our veterans as they travel along life’s journeys. In collaboration with The Veterans Art Projects’ workshops, veterans were taught the multi-stage process of bronze casting, gained skills in art-making and had an opportunity to share their life stories. Most of the bronze sculptural works presented are direct images of each of the veterans using casts of their faces, heads and in some cases, their hands. This personal and direct choice of bronze casting as artistic expression gives viewers powerful and intimate portraits and insights into the hearts and minds of these art-makers. There is a long historical tradition of bronze casting over centuries and cultures across the globe. Going back to Greek and Roman times, these bronzes were created to memorialize soldiers in battle.
Another concurrent exhibition is Ted Meyer: Scarred For Life, which documents the traumas and healing journeys of people facing disease as well as veterans injured on deployments overseas. Artist Ted Meyer who had his own debilitating disease makes block prints of human scars by applying ink to these scars and the skin around them and then gently presses paper to the skin to create direct contact images. As part of his own contribution to this process, he highlights areas of these prints with paint and pencil. Using the bodies of friends, acquaintances as well as military veterans, these enhanced monoprints are accompanied by photographic portraits taken by Meyer along with a written story by his subjects. Each tells a unique and personal story of resilience and healing. A highlight of the exhibition is a fascinating video featuring several of the people Meyer has created prints with, including both veterans and people who have faced disease or accidents. They each spoke of their scars, and the ways the injuries affected their lives. In contrast to those who had accidents, disabilities or diseases who are ‘victims’ of circumstance, veterans chose to put themselves in harm’s way with the knowledge that they are risking injury or death during their military service. It is interesting to note that though their paths are very different, each emphasized how their ‘disability’ gives strength and courage and a sense of pride in facing life’s challenges.