Matthew Nelson
September 10, 1961 - April 29, 2022


Matthew Nelson was our Theological Artist-in-Residence for several years, until life moved him back to Minnesota in January 2022. Just three months later, he died of a heart attack. His death was devastating for a wide community of friends, colleagues, and loved ones. We are grateful for the time we knew him, and that so much of his collection has a permanent home in our building. 


Matthew was a visual artist originally from the Midwest, who moved to Oregon in 2014. He earned a BFA in Painting and Drawing from St. Cloud State University in Minnesota. He worked as a certified Chemical Dependency Counselor with Dual Diagnosed population, and trained in Liturgical Art, Pastoral Care and Social Justice at Luther Seminary/United Seminary in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota. He was the Artist in Residence at Luther Seminary in Minneapolis, Minnesota, from 2011 through 2013. He exhibited throughout the US and was included in multiple corporate, public and private collections including  the national Jerry Evenrud Prodigal Son Collection.

Matthew’s form of expression rose from an 8-year discipline of creating a piece of art daily. It was this consistent creative process that drove his work. The discipline of daily art pushed Matthew into working thematically using multiple disciplines and stylistic approaches that best fit each conceptual series.

His figurative work flowed from a social justice and recovery focus. His landscapes were most often an exploration into the human experience of community and isolation. His abstracts explored a meditative and direct response to words, music and poetry. Connecting all of these approaches was his use of “the sound of colors, the contrast of surface, the shape of simplified forms, and the harmony of tension and silence”.  Together, this visual language created a dynamic surface that confronted, connected, and comforted the viewer. 


Artist Statement
 I paint the part,
The moment sublime,
That stands in for the whole,
The conceptual essence unseen
Made visible in it’s simple
Form pared down,
Barely holding
On the edge of perception,
Finding life in
The sound of colors,
The contrast of surface,
The intimate connection
Of shapes and tensions and
Creating a place and a time
Of resonance
With something oddly familiar.  

Other Works