Sparkt Bridges: Young Man and His Art Have Deeper Message

By Anne Linaberger

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Jarrod Edson’s talent is astounding. It’s helping him make a difference, and demonstrating that his disability is actually an asset to his art.

This story is part of a bi-weekly series that celebrates people who are reaching across a divide to “build bridges” with those different from themselves. The Sparkt Bridges series is made possible with the support of UPMC. 

At just 20 years old Jarrod Edson is already a successful artist whose digital paintings sell out when he goes to art shows. People are eager to order his pieces on line, and he even has custom commissions (see the image at the bottom).  

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From Jarrod’s “Too Kool to Kill” series.

It’s no wonder Jarrod’s artwork is so popular.  It’s powerful: his vibrant colors make you stop and stare, and his whimsical style is nothing short of joyful. But if you look closer, you’ll see there’s a deeper message, just as Jarrod himself has a deeper story that will make you think — about where talent comes from and what we as a society view as precious.

Jarrod and his family moved to Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood in 2014. Fortuitously, their new home is just a few minutes away from The Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh.  

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Autism for Arts Fundraiser – and Jarrod’s first sale!

“When we first moved here we were desperate because Jarrod was in a really bad place,” with pain from migraines and fibromyalgia so bad he couldn’t hold a pencil explained his mother Kuhoo. The family looked all over the country for help: John’s Hopkins, The Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic. They finally found an answer in their own neighborhood. “We ended up at Children’s Institute and with therapies they helped him tremendously,” said Kuhoo.

No surprise that when the family decided to donate some of the proceeds from Jarrod’s art sales to good causes, the place that helped him get back to making art was one of the three organizations they chose:

Kuhoo Edson says it was never a question of giving back. “We’re very fortunate. And that’s something we wanted to instill in Jarrod. Pay it forward.”

And the Edson’s generosity is appreciated. “It touches our heart,” said Children’s Institute President and CEO Dr. Wendy Pardee. “That’s a clear indication of how they value the services, the impact we made in his life and his ability to do the artwork he does. It’s come full circle.”

Jarrod’s work on display at the Shadyside Arts Festival.

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If you’d like to learn more about Jarrod, his art, and how to support it, click here to go to his website. We’re excited to see what other bridges Jarrod and his amazing art will build in the future. We hope you are too!

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(Credits: images, videographer JT Mazula)

The Sparkt Bridges Project is produced 

with the generous support of UPMC. 

Life Changing Medicine.

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