Home / Voices and Visions / Visual Diary of Matthew Dauer

Matthew Dauer is a young man with a talent for art. Since a young age his two passions in life were skateboarding and art… until that fateful night on October 12, 1996. Matt was a very experienced skater, ready for a sponsorship from a shoe or skateboard company. However, even the best skaters wipe out sometimes. While skating in Woodruff Park in Atlanta, Georgia, his board caught a rough edge and he plunged down approximately 17 feet of concrete stairs and landed on his head. He was not wearing a helmet.

Matt suffered a massive compressed skull fracture and traumatic brain injury. An angel must have been watching out for Matt, because he lived through the fall, and his brain did not swell as expected. Following six weeks of hospitalization and rehabilitation, Matt returned to school.

Matt’s upbeat and positive attitude provided the motivation he needed to heal himself. The paralysis in his leg improved and he learned to walk again. He tried to skate again, but some residual weakness in his left leg didn’t make it possible and the passion for skating was gone. Instead, art has become paramount in his life.

As soon as he was able to lift pen to paper, Matt began drawing a “Visual Diary” of his time in the hospital. This very intricate piece depicts his hospital stay. The picture represents abstract feelings of pain and pounding headaches, but also contains concrete visuals such as the cane he learned to walk with, the electrode apparatus used to bring his leg back from paralysis, catheters, syringes, and other tools of the medical trade. The picture also depicts people ho were involved in his healing process, including health professionals, family members, and his roommate at the rehabilitation center.

Matt is currently working toward his Bachelor of Fine Arts at the Atlanta College of Art, which is located on the grounds of the Woodruff Arts Center and the High Museum of Art.