1938 - 2009
Born in South Bend, Ind., John Sears was an artist, teacher, a survivor and an inspiration for all who knew him.
John earned a diploma and bachelor’s degree in Drawing and Painting from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a master’s degree in Art Education Northern Illinois University. His work has been included in exhibits throughout the United States and has received many awards, including the Patron's Prize for Graphics at the Phillips Mill Art Exhibition, first prize for works on canvas in Bryn Mawr Rehabilitation Hospital’s 2002 Art Ability International Exhibition for Artists with Disabilities and honorable mention at Princeton Medical Center’s 2003 Art First exhibition. His art is in both public and private collections, including those of Pittsburgh Plate Glass, Pittsburgh National Bank, Mobil Oil, and Pittsburgh Copper Corporation.
He was a member of the Philadelphia Sketch Club, Nuvisions for Disabled Artists and the Artists of Yardley.
John taught art in the Chicago-area public schools before joining the faculty at George School, a Quaker boarding school in Newtown, Pa., in 1970. His George School students credit him for instilling in them a life-long love for art, and many of them have gone on to enjoy successful careers working in the arts. In 1983 he was recognized by Rhode Island School of Design as one of the nation's outstanding secondary art educators. He was also one of the founders of the Bucks County Art Educators Association.
May 17, 1985, John was involved in a near-fatal bicycling accident that left him with a severe brain injury and such disabilities as partial paralysis, speech disorders, and double vision, as well as cognitive deficits. For the next 24 years he continued his work as an artist, learning to compensate for the challenges his disability presents.
“Making art has been a central part of my life since I was a child. After my accident, when the doctors told me that I might not be able to make art again, I was devastated. I couldn’t imagine living without being able to create, “ he once said. “Using as much will and determination as I could muster, I kept on trying, so that I can once again work in my studio.”
Unable to return to the classroom, John continued to volunteer his time and talent teaching classes and seminars for Beechwood Rehabilitation Center, St. Mary Medical Center, The Brain Injury Association of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf. In recognition of his accomplishments and commitment to others, the Brain Injury Association of Pennsylvania presented him with its Inspiration Award in 2004. The award, which was renamed the John Sears Inspiration Award in 2009, is presented annually to a brain injury survivor who has worked to overcome significant challenges and who has utilized their talents and strengths to achieve significant personal achievement.