Exhibition Inspired by Artist’s Stroke


Courtesy of San Jacinto College South Campus Gallery

John Bavaro shares his personal experience in a showcase of the imaging his doctors used to explain his medical condition.

The San Jacinto College South Campus art gallery kicked off a new exhibition titled BrainTree Oct. 7 featuring the work of artist John Bavaro, a professor of illustration at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. This showcase is Bavaro’s first solo show in Texas, where his work illustrates his experience with the stroke he suffered from a dissected carotid artery.

Bavaro created BrainTree a year after suffering the stroke, but in the initial aftermath of the episode, the artist lost his speech and the use of his arm. According to his website, he was unable to speak, yet he found inspiration in the different brain scans and images his doctors displayed to explain his condition. In turn, Bavaro created his artwork by taking the brain scans and layering them one on top of the other while “responding to them with paint and layers” using the Procreate app on an iPad.

“Then, I take a series of trees that I build in an app called ‘TreeSketch,’” he continued. “I produce 3-D images, which I can ‘flatten,’ then place them in layer after layer of my images.”

Moreover, Bavaro explained that he saw parallels between the structure of his brain and the growth pattern of a tree. “I was struck by the metaphor of rewiring or the re-growth of connections that had died and now needed to be rewired,” he said.

Meanwhile, the South Campus hosted a panel discussion also titled BrainTree on Oct. 16 that focused on stroke rehabilitation and brain science. Art professor and gallery curator Bradly Brown said the panel is an example of the gallery’s efforts to connect different departments and disciplines through cooperation and discussion.

“The San Jacinto College South Campus Gallery is committed to promoting creativity, critical discourse, and collaboration through the arrangement of multidisciplinary exhibitions and educational programs,” Brown said. “BrainTree is a great example of how that can work.”

BrainTree will be on display until Nov. 8 in the art gallery (Room 143) of the Flickinger Fine Arts Center (S15) on the South Campus.