Class of 1983
Hall of Honor 2011
Matthew Placzek’s innate talent for art was evident at an early age. Born and raised in Grand Island, Nebraska, he created works of nature while still in high school and subsequently made his way through Hastings College and Creighton University in Omaha, all the while honing his art and unique style. His first large-scale commission was entitled “Through Currents of Time” at the age of 25. The 25-foot steel and bronze sculpture featured birds in flight and launched Matthew into the world of municipal and private sculptural art projects.
In 2003, Placzek was commissioned to create “Labor”, the second largest labor monument in the country. The composition is 30-feet high and is showcased prominently as part of the newly developed riverfront in Omaha.
His other works include ILLUMINA, the centerpiece for the Qwest Center Omaha Convention Center and Arena. Hundreds of thousands of people interact with the sculpture’s unique carnival-like design annually. Most recently, he installed IMAGINE, a 90-foot landmark at the Children’s Hospital Omaha. IMAGINE features an LED lighting system and bronze figures capturing the innocents of youth in a heartwarming, colorful sculpture.
The Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha commissioned Placzek to create a signature piece for the plaza entering the sculpture garden. The museum is renowned for its collection of art of the American West. The 5,000-pound, 15-foot high sculpture entitled “Sioux Warrior” was originally designed by John David Brcin (1899-1983) and sculpted by Matthew for the entrance. He has also been honored with the 30 Under 30 Award and the DOI Cultural Art Award in 2009 for his contributions to public art.
In addition to large-scale art projects, Placzek also creates smaller sculptures in his studio in Omaha, Nebraska. His work is included in galleries throughout the country and is included in collections of Guinness Brewing in London, England; Takao Building Development in Tokyo, Japan; BMW in Germany; Level 3 Communications in Denver, Colorado, and the Social Security Building in Roanoke, VA.
Placzek has had numerous one man shows, including the U.S. Embassy in Prague. His work is also in the presidential collections of Austria, The Republic of China and former President Ronald Reagan.
Matthew and his wife, Kimberly, also an artist, have three children, Aaron, Noah and Phoebe. They love to travel and are passionate about art and how it creates a positive effect upon a community and daily life.