MATT SESOW: Shock and Awe

Exhibition Website

May 27 2016 - May 28 2017

AVAM is thrilled to announce an all-new original art exhibition, MATT SESOW: Shock and Awe. Washington, D.C.-based self-taught artist Matt Sesow's "raw, visceral, good to the bone" paintings will be displayed in the museum's third floor gallery of its Zanvyl A. Krieger Main Building beginning Memorial Day Weekend 2016 (Friday, May 27, 2016) and remain on view thru June 4, 2017. Among the original 150 plus works on display, visitors will witness Sesow's salute to the first 100 American soldiers killed in the Iraq War, his fantastical depictions of animals and birds, personalized tributes to great humanitarians, his own autobiographical paintings, and an illustrated "Key" to understanding the artist's repeated singular language icons. Curated by museum Founder and Director, Rebecca Alban Hoffberger, this will be the first exclusive showing of Sesow's work at AVAM.

Matt Sesow (1966– ) was born in Omaha, Nebraska. At age eight, a life-changing "shock" came, interrupting an idyllic summer evening of outdoor play among his posse of childhood friends. Captain of a game of "SPUD" in a field behind his home, Matt's outstretched arms threw high a ball into the night sky just as a 19-year-old pilot cut his plane's engine to silently swoop in for a practice manual landing at an adjacent small grassy airfield. The plane's propeller blade struck Matt's raised left arm and severed it instantly. The young pilot didn't see Matt until it was too late.

Matt recalls a loving female spirit's appearance that offered him the choice of a gentle death or a "very interesting life." Matt chose life. Matt credits his family with giving him the support to live as normal a life as possible. As a gifted young computer savant, 14-year-old Matt wrote his own program code for agricultural businesses and designed icons for Apple personal computers. He also ran track, played high-school football, and was crowned Homecoming King at the University of Tulsa, which he attended after winning a Mensa Foundation scholarship for a passionately-written essay arguing against nuclear warfare. Matt's academic studies were focused on his computer and business interests and a drive to be independent.

It was not until 1994, while employed at IBM in Bethesda, MD, that Matt accidentally became an artist. Trying to impress a bohemian young woman and her art school grad house-mates, Matt lied when one of them asked if he had ever painted. "Sure," he told the house-mate and picked up a brush and paper and started painting on the spot. "That began this great journey that has never stopped," says Matt.

Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website

  • Painting
  • American
  • Contemporary
  • Matt Sesow

Exhibition Venues & Dates