The Blackstone Valley Tribune
October 2017

Prolific, contemporary artist Jon Sarkin has gained international recognition for his work and is also a powerful example of the positive contributions individuals with disabilities can make. After a brain hemorrhage and stroke that nearly killed him in 1988, Sarkin began to draw as part of his recovery and now making art is as much a part of his life as breathing. His condition,
otherwise known as sudden artistic output, altered his perception of the world and this is startlingly apparent in his free-flowing and passionately charged imagery.

Sarkin’s exhibit The Unchained Brain in the Open Door Gallery at the Worcester Art Museum will be moved to the Spaulding R. Aldrich Heritage Gallery at the Alternatives’ Whitin Mill, 50 Douglas Road. The artist’s reception and gallery talk will be on Friday, Oct. 27 from 4:30-7:30 p.m.. The public is invited to attend and meet this remarkable, world-renowned artist.

Sarkin’s exhibit at the Worcester Art Museum was part of the Arts and the Brian Symposium, a day long symposium on the healing power of the arts sponsored by VSA Massachusetts and the Seven Hills Foundation, The Institute for Arts and Health at Lesley University and the Boston Arts Consortium for Health. The symposium explored the role that the arts can play in helping people with acquired brain injury cope with trauma, regain mental function, and reorient their lives around their new capacities and opportunities. Sarkin shared his experience in a live, multi-media performance, which has been recorded and
will also be on view at the Heritage Gallery as part of the shared exhibit.

“This is such an exciting opportunity for people to meet and learn about an incredible artist and brain injury survivor,” said Alternatives Director of Community Outreach, Cristi Collari.

“Jon Sarkin’s story is so compelling. He is an amazing example of someone who has suffered a life altering disability and has managed to move forward and make a difference in his own life and that of so many others through his art.”

Collari is also co-curator of The Unchained Brain exhibit with Charles Washburn, vice president and COO of VSA Massachusetts.

Sarkin’s work has been featured in The New Yorker, The New York Times, ABC Primetime, This American Life, GQ, ArtNews, the Discovery Channel and the BBC. His exhibits have been showcased throughout the world including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The American Visionary Art Museum, and the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum. His biography was
released in 2011 by Pulitzer-prize winning author Amy Ellis Nutt. Recently, Paramount Pictures and Tom Cruise acquired the story of Sarkin for an upcoming movie and the music group Guster commissioned Sarkin to design the cover of their new album Easy Wonderful. Sarkin also did a music video with the group for their first single Do You Love Me where Sarkin paints lead singer Ryan Miller. It’s available in its entirety on YouTube.

The Unchained Brain exhibition at the Spaulding R. Aldrich Heritage Gallery will continue through Dec. 29. Gallery hours are 8:30 a.m.- 4:30 p.m., Monday–Friday and evenings and weekends by appointment. For more information please call Collari at (508) 234-6232 or visit:

Alternatives has more than 40 years’ experience helping individuals with disabilities build meaningful lives in the community and sponsors community events that people of all abilities can enjoy together.