October 20, 2004: Headlines: COS - Solomon Islands: Art: Painting: Orb6 Studios: Solomon Islands RPCV Matt Sesow is a visionary artist

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Solomon Islands: Special Report: Artist and Solomon Islands RPCV Matt Sesow: October 20, 2004: Headlines: COS - Solomon Islands: Art: Painting: Orb6 Studios: Solomon Islands RPCV Matt Sesow is a visionary artist

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-151-196-36-89.balt.east.verizon.net - on Sunday, November 28, 2004 - 7:11 pm: Edit Post

Solomon Islands RPCV Matt Sesow is a visionary artist

Solomon Islands RPCV Matt Sesow is a visionary artist

Solomon Islands RPCV Matt Sesow is a visionary artist

Visionary' Artists Bring Personal Struggle to Work (Reuters)

Posted Wednesday, October 20, 2004, 9:00 am

By Cate Hescox

BALTIMORE (Reuters) - Matt Sesow has taken a winding path toward becoming an artist.

When he was 8, his left arm was amputated after an airplane propeller struck him. He grew up, became a computer programer, took up painting as a way to meet people and did a stint in the Solomon Islands as a Peace Corps volunteer.

But art soon developed into more than a pastime; his paintings became a way of dealing with his childhood trauma and he began working on his art full time.

Sesow didn't have any formal art training, but his work is gaining recognition in the small but growing world of so-called visionary art. The genre -- sometimes called outsider art, art brut or contemporary folk art -- groups works by self-trained artists who deal with very personal issues, often their own disabilities or emotional problems.

Two of Sesow's paintings are part of a new exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum (AVAM) in Baltimore, which was founded in 1995 and is the first U.S. museum dedicated to visionary art.

Through his art, Sesow worked through the emotional knots created by his childhood accident.

AVAM founder and Director Rebecca Hoffberger was working for the department of psychiatry at a local hospital and got the idea for the museum in 1983.

"I really wanted a place that was structured toward (people) who appreciate and value the great creativity," Hoffberger said.

Dedicated by an act of Congress, the museum was funded primarily by her husband, LeRoy Hoffberger, from a wealthy Baltimore family, Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop cosmetics firm, and Zanvyl Krieger, a lawyer and sports entrepreneur.

After nine years, AVAM is growing and next month opens an addition that doubles its exhibit space and adds classrooms and workshops.


The museum's latest exhibit, "Holy H2O: Fluid Universe" explores all aspects of water and runs until September 2005. Along with Sesow's work, there are over 150 different works by 40 different artists. They include:

- A huge kinetic sculpture of Coney Island, a historic amusement park located in New York, by Tom Duncan, who began making art when he was 4-years-old after his aunt gave him his first clay set.

- A floor-to-ceiling aquarium made of fish from mostly recycled beer bottle caps by Mr. Imagination (Gregory Womack), who describes himself as a collector of cast off objects.

- A 7-foot sculpture and altar room, which contains over 100 pounds of beads, glitter and sequins dedicated to "La Siren," a mermaid goddess by Nancy Josephson. Her work is inspired by her visits to Haiti and her spiritual journey of becoming a Voodoo priestess.

John Maizels, editor of Raw Vision Magazine, said visionary art is generally self-taught art that exposes the artist's inner depths.

Some might think of visionary art as folk art. But while folk art is also self taught, Hoffberger said, it differs by being "learned at the knee" and passed from generation to generation.

Visionary art has influenced other art genres, especially contemporary art, but there are differences, Maizels said. "Contemporary art is very foreboding and the impact of visionary art is immediate," he said

Sesow's paintings communicate the emotional power of his healing. One of his works in the AVAM exhibit, titled "Out of Water," depicts in loose, abstracted brush strokes and bright colors a scuba diver emerging from water. On his goggles is a line with three crosses that Sesow uses to symbolize the trauma of his childhood accident.

For years after his hand was amputated Sesow wore prosthetics, but about a year after he started painting, he gained confidence and stopped wearing his artificial hand.

Sesow feels freed now that he doesn't have to try to be and look like something he isn't.

"At first it was a difficult decision," Sesow said. "But after taking the 'electric hand' off for good, some great things happened. I noticed people actually stared less at me. It was as if the stiff, sometimes green hand had caused more questions and attention to my disability than not wearing it."

Website design Copyright © 2003-2004 Orb6 Studios

When this story was posted in November 2004, this was on the front page of PCOL:

The Birth of the Peace Corps The Birth of the Peace Corps
UMBC's Shriver Center and the Maryland Returned Volunteers hosted Scott Stossel, biographer of Sargent Shriver, who spoke on the Birth of the Peace Corps. This is the second annual Peace Corps History series - last year's speaker was Peace Corps Director Jack Vaughn.
Vote "Yes" on NPCA's bylaw changes Vote "Yes" on NPCA's bylaw changes
Take our new poll. NPCA members begin voting this week on bylaw changes to streamline NPCA's Board of Directors. NPCA Chair Ken Hill, the President's Forum and other RPCVs endorse the changes. Mail in your ballot or vote online (after Dec 1), then see on how RPCVs are voting.
Charges possible in 1976 PCV slaying Charges possible in 1976 PCV slaying
Congressman Norm Dicks has asked the U.S. attorney in Seattle to consider pursuing charges against Dennis Priven, the man accused of killing Peace Corps Volunteer Deborah Gardner on the South Pacific island of Tonga 28 years ago. Background on this story here and here.
Your vote makes a difference Your vote makes a difference
Make a difference on November 2 - Vote. Then take our RPCV exit poll. See how RPCV's are voting and take a look at the RPCV voter demographic. Finally leave a message on why you voted for John Kerry or for George Bush. Previous poll results here.
Kerry reaches out to Returned Volunteers Kerry reaches out to Returned Volunteers
The Kerry campaign wants the RPCV vote. Read our interview with Dave Magnani, Massachusetts State Senator and Founder of "RPCVs for Kerry," and his answers to our questions about Kerry's plan to triple the size of the Peace Corps, should the next PC Director be an RPCV, and Safety and Security issues. Then read the "RPCVs for Kerry" statement of support and statements by Dr. Robert Pastor, Ambassador Parker Borg, and Paul Oostburg Sanz made at the "RPCVs for Kerry" Press Conference.

RPCV Carl Pope says the key to winning this election is not swaying undecided voters, but persuading those already willing to vote for your candidate to actually go to the polls.

Take our poll and tell us what you are doing to support your candidate.

Finally read our wrap-up of the eight RPCVs in Senate and House races around the country and where the candidates are in their races.
Director Gaddi Vasquez:  The PCOL Interview Director Gaddi Vasquez: The PCOL Interview
PCOL sits down for an extended interview with Peace Corps Director Gaddi Vasquez. Read the entire interview from start to finish and we promise you will learn something about the Peace Corps you didn't know before.

Plus the debate continues over Safety and Security.

Read the stories and leave your comments.

Some postings on Peace Corps Online are provided to the individual members of this group without permission of the copyright owner for the non-profit purposes of criticism, comment, education, scholarship, and research under the "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. Government copyright laws and they may not be distributed further without permission of the copyright owner. Peace Corps Online does not vouch for the accuracy of the content of the postings, which is the sole responsibility of the copyright holder.

Story Source: Orb6 Studios

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Solomon Islands; Art; Painting



Add a Message

This is a public posting area. Enter your username and password if you have an account. Otherwise, enter your full name as your username and leave the password blank. Your e-mail address is optional.