In most gallery exhibitions, visitors are prohibited from touching the artwork. At Salem State University’s Winfisky Gallery, interacting with the artist’s work is the point of the exhibition. In fact, the exhibition, JON SARKIN / ARTIST, is installed as an archive of Sarkins’ thirty-plus years of prolific artistic output. The gallery’s three large shelves are stacked with hundreds of drawings and collages for visitors to peruse and view. The exhibition is an intimate, hands-on approach, like sitting down with a book or a newspaper. Jon utilizes combinations of text and image in his art. He will often work on both the front and back of the paper, making it impossible to fully appreciate Jon’s drawings in a traditional display of the work. Jon’s artwork runs the gamut from drawings on ceiling tiles to large-scale rugs produced by Landry & Arcari, from Jon’s original artwork.
Jon Sarkin is a self-taught contemporary American artist. The neurological effects of a stroke in 1989 led him to be a wildly prolific artist. This condition, known as "sudden artistic output," profoundly affected his perception of the world, and this change is reflected in his art. His work is influenced by popular culture, comics, literature, and music. Jon creates elaborate drawings and paintings filled with words and images. He has been featured in many publications and documentaries, including GQ, The New Yorker, The New York Times, ArtNews, Primetime Live, the Discovery Channel and the BBC. He has exhibited widely in locations, including New York, London, Los Angeles and Boston. His biography, Shadows Bright As Glass, was written in 2011 by Pulitzer-prize winning author Amy Ellis Nutt. He works in Gloucester, Massachusetts where he lives with his wife and three children.
Jon received the Salem State University Art + Design 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award last Spring 2017, to honor his remarkable commitment to art and creativity. His exhibition in the Winfisky Gallery will be unlike any exhibition that has been presented in the gallery’s long history. On September 20, Jon will be performing his unique blend of poetry, performance art, and scientific mumbo jumbo with videographer Emille Doucette in the MLK Room of Ellison Campus Center. He will return to our campus in the Spring 2018, for a residency and workshops with our Art + Design students.