Matt Neckers, Ascension

I am a visual artist and teaching artist. I work in a variety of media including sculpture, photography, painting, digital media and installation. Over the last several years, I devoted a good deal of my creative energy to miniature art projects. Perhaps in response to years of laboring over tiny, somewhat whimsical art projects, my current projects are often larger and less fussy. Some of my work, including the piece on display here, come from a different place emotionally.

Ascension was conceived, while I was recovering from surgery, after a serious illness. It deals with both my experience confronting mortality and my eventual recovery. At a time of worldwide crisis, my own struggles parallel what so many people are going through, so when Bennington Museum curator Jamie Franklin asked me if I had anything for an outdoor sculpture show, coinciding with the reopening of the museum, I thought of this piece. 

While the figure is inspired by a challenging time in my life, it also represents a more hopeful vision. I use carnival lighting in this work with the intent of showing something vibrant and alive. The lights remind me of summer nights, often spent outdoors, lit by a similar glow. The idea was that it would serve as something of a beacon, when the museum reopened in early July. I do encourage visitors to see the piece at night. 

As with many artists, I spent a good portion of the spring stuck at home, dealing with cancelled shows and opportunities. This show came at a time when I really needed something to focus my energy on. I am grateful to all of the people who made this wonderful exhibition possible.  

Matt’s work has been featured by Hyperallergic, Art New England, Vermont Public Radio, the Whitefish Review, Seven Days, and Vermont Art Guide. Take Magazine named him a “2017 Artist to Watch.” Matt received a Creation Grant from the Vermont Arts Council, with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, for his Mobile Museum Project, The Vermont International Museum of Contemporary Art + Design, which toured multiple locations in Vermont including the Kent Museum, an abandoned asbestos mine, a remote pond, the Museum of Everyday Life, Burlington City Arts, the Fairbanks Museum. He also created an interactive museum inside of a 1940s refrigerator which was installed at the Fleming Museum in Burlington, Vermont in February of 2019. Matt previously received a Learning in Art and Culture Fellowship through the Vermont Studio Center, culminating in a solo exhibition of his work, which was funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Vermont Arts Council. For his teaching, Matt was named Vermont’s 2016 Lead PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovator. This national honor is given to one educator from each state. He was named a Juried Teaching Artist by the Vermont Arts Council. He was also given a Distinguished Arts Education Leader Award by The Vermont Alliance for Arts Education (Affiliated with the Kennedy Center Alliance for Art Education). Matt studied painting at Evergreen State College, in Olympia, WA, and received his M.Ed. Arts in Education from St. Michael’s College, in Colchester, Vermont. Matt has taught for a variety of schools including St. Michael’s College and Green Mountain Tech. Matt lives in Northern Vermont with his family.