Born in 1966, Matt Sesow was raised in rural Nebraska while enjoying a normal childhood. On a summer evening when he was eight at an airfield near his home, he was struck by the propeller of a landing airplane. The accident resulted in his left arm being severed and the loss of his left hand. Through the support of his family, Matt’s physical disability was minimized as he was encouraged to participate in a variety of academic and organized sporting events. Eventually he attended and graduated from University with a degree in Computer Information Systems and a professional career with IBM as a software tester.
Without formal art education, Matt Sesow discovered painting as a hobby while working at IBM. In the evenings and on weekends he played with painting and began selling his work to Self-Taught and Outsider art collectors in 1995. Throughout the 1990’s he continued to paint and participate in art exhibitions while working full-time at variety of computer firms including AOL and Netscape. Returning from a stint with the Peace Corps (Solomon Islands) in 1999, Matt began to focus on his love of painting and developing a path to create art full-time.
In 2001, after establishing himself within the art community as a powerfully diverse and independent painter, Matt Sesow retired from his computer career to pursue his art full-time. With the ability to focus entirely on his painting, Sesow exhibited and traveled across the United States while also securing new collectors internationally includingexhibitions in Spain, France, and Slovenia.
Currently living and painting in Washington, DC, Matt continues to be an independent artist who makes a living by selling his work directly to fans and from a variety of galleries and exhibitions world-wide.
Painting is something I do everyday and it is what I intend to do for the rest of my life. Painting has healed me. I found painting at the age of 28 after moving to Washington, DC as a cure to the emotional pain I felt from losing my left hand as a child, after being hit by the propeller of a landing airplane in 1975.
I am fortunate that people are willing to look at and buy my paintings. Because of that, painting is what I do now for my career. It is the sole source of my income.
My paintings are the emotional response to a traumatic past, the road to healing, and the confidence of finding a new language to express feelings felt but never shared. While some people see my paintings as angry or aggressive, many of my collectors and fans (including myself), see my work as hopeful, joyous, and eager to take on the world!
My sharp lines, bold colours, and a willingness to share hidden emotions through my art has gained me a huge following in the art world. My work started to sell in 1996 and since then I estimate that I have sold over 8,000 unique paintings to collectors around the world.
Most of my paintings include the “icons” I’ve invented to help the viewer decipher the meaning of my work. Icons such as “trauma scars”, “trauma cups”, “bunnies”, “one-winged rising phoenixes”, and “guardian angels” are just a few of the clues or messages I use in each painting to help tell my story. My icons mark the time when the painting was created as well, they are an “emotional checkup” to myself, showing where I’m at, and when I look back at old paintings, where I’ve been.
I’ve had 6 solo exhibitions in Europe and was the first American representative at the 42nd annual meeting of Naive Artists in Trebjne, Slovenia in 2009. For many of the people I met at the conference in Slovenia it was their first exposure to an American, let alone a Washington, DC artist ambassador. My third solo exhibition in Barcelona, Spain was in April of 2013.
My future in the arts looks bright. With the soon to be internationally released stamps from the United Nations and my solo exhibition in France for 2014, the opportunity for me to connect with the world through my art will be unparalleled and unique. Bringing those experiences back to Washington, DC in order to share with other artists and interested residents is an exciting opportunity that I look forward to.
Videos and Articles
About “JOIN HANDS: THE LIFE AND ART OF MATT SESOW": A documentary about American artist Matt Sesow (released 2015)