Current Exhibitionspan>

MATT SESOW: Shock and Awe

Opening Memorial Day Weekend 2016!

3rd floor gallery, Zanvyl A. Krieger Main Building

Eddy Mumma Untitled

Matt Sesow, detail: A Choice, 2016, Acrylic/oil on stretched canvas, Collection of the artist.

"I have been bent and broken, but – I hope – into a better shape." –Charles Dickens

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.

"Art has been a way for me to communicate values and emotions that were themselves all too difficult to be said." –Matt Sesow


The American Visionary Art Museum is a proud participant in the National Endowment for the Arts' Blue Star Museums Program. Each year from Memorial Day to Labor Day, AVAM grants free museum admission to active duty military members and their families, as a small token of our appreciation for their honorable service to our country. AVAM is pleased to open its latest original exhibition, MATT SESOW: Shock and Awe, this Memorial Day weekend 2016, and grant free museum admission to Active Duty Military Members and their families, as well as Veterans on this national holiday weekend (Friday, May 27 – Sunday, May 29, 2016). A reminder that AVAM will be closed on Memorial Day (Monday, May 30, 2016).


Sunday, June 5, 2016 • 4pm • Free, Members-Only Event
Museum Members: join AVAM in welcoming our newest 3rd floor show, MATT SESOW: Shock and Awe. Enjoy lite fare and beverages and hear a special introduction from AVAM Founder/Director, and the exhibition's curator, Rebecca Alban Hoffberger, and a talk with the artist himself, Matt Sesow. Members please RSVP to To join AVAM's Fan Club Membership, call 410-244-1900 or CLICK HERE!