VORTEX: a wire based installation by Joel Armstrong

VORTEX:

(vôr’těks’)

1. a whirling mass of air, especially one in the form of a visible column or spiral, as a tornado. 2. a feeling or situation that has so much power or influence over you that you feel you are not in control. 

 As an artist with bipolar disorder, my work often reflects that. Though not the original intent, this installation is a visual image of how my brain works, and what mania is like.  #bipolardisorder   #bpHope  #VORTEX :  #installationart   #installationartist   #wireart   #wireartist  #joelarmstrongfineart

As an artist with bipolar disorder, my work often reflects that. Though not the original intent, this installation is a visual image of how my brain works, and what mania is like. #bipolardisorder #bpHope#VORTEX#installationart #installationartist #wireart #wireartist#joelarmstrongfineart


Since 1998, my installation work has been based on the idea of a story. Whether these stories were from memories of growing up, family history, or those shared with me—there was always a reason behind what I created. There was safety in these stories, and if a viewer dug deep enough or long enough, they could still find clues to understand my work.

Along with these stories was a personal vocabulary in the materials I used, which included wire and rust. The medium I used for over 19 years was baling wire, traditionally used to bind up, shut out, and fence in a family or homestead from the unknown, or in some ways, from actually being known. Having been someone who always dealt with depression, when I read Andrew Solomon’s book The Noonday Demon, I was enlightened to continue, “Mild depression is a gradual and sometimes permanent thing that undermines people the way rust weakens iron.” He went on to add, “If one imagines a soul of iron that weathers with grief and rusts with mild depression, then major depression is the startling collapse of a whole structure.” The reality was, I had allowed my Bipolar Disorder to rust my identity to the point of collapse.

 The original "Clothes-lines" installation was warm and sunny giving the feel and sounds of a summer day. Pictured here, is a 2006 version that took place in the fall. The original one had sod on the ground. People were seen having a picnic in the gallery and doing cartwheels. 

The original "Clothes-lines" installation was warm and sunny giving the feel and sounds of a summer day. Pictured here, is a 2006 version that took place in the fall. The original one had sod on the ground. People were seen having a picnic in the gallery and doing cartwheels. 

The first installation I did was called “Clothes-lines,” a day’s worth of laundry from our house. It also represented childhood memories of the rusted clothesline poles that spread across the backyard of many homes—with universal sound effects that defined the backyards which included a sprinkler, lawnmower, kids playing, dogs barking and birds chirping. Soon after I started to teach at JBU, I exhibited “Clothes-lines,” and I find it appropriate that I end with this updated version. With VORTEX, the sounds have been replaced by an impending tornado, as the wire drawings that have defined my art career are created to spin around the gallery in chaos.

 Pieces from "Clothes-lines", "One Body", "Immersion: the sign of Jonah" and "Garage Sale" installations were used for this installation.

Pieces from "Clothes-lines", "One Body", "Immersion: the sign of Jonah" and "Garage Sale" installations were used for this installation.

As I arrive at the actual point of retirement, I find myself both excited and petrified at the unknown and lack of control. Being an artist is such an honor, and something I have wanted to do since I was young. Always afraid to take the big step—now that I am doing it I am fighting the same fear, but have to trust that God has led me to this place. I metaphorically can see my past as pieces of art circle through the gallery—uncontrolled, unbridled, and unstoppable. With a world that can be defined by the same terms, I can only move on with my eyes on God.

Preliminary Drawing of Norman Rockwell's "Rosie the Riveter" as I begin working on my interpretation in Nickel/Silver wire drawing

American women entered the workforce in unprecedented numbers during World War II, as widespread male enlistment left gaping holes in the industrial labor force. Between 1940 and 1945, the female percentage of the U.S. workforce increased from 27 percent to nearly 37 percent, and by 1945 nearly one out of every four married women worked outside the home. “Rosie the Riveter,” star of a government campaign aimed at recruiting female workers for the munitions industry, became perhaps the most iconic image of working women during the war.

Rosie the riviter, drawing.jpg
 https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/art-1010/art-between-wars/american-art-wwii/v/norman-rockwell-rosie-the-riveter

https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/art-1010/art-between-wars/american-art-wwii/v/norman-rockwell-rosie-the-riveter

You're invited to the opening of my installation called RUSTED, on the First Thursday of September 7, at Stage Eighteen, Fayetteville Arkansas

My Show called RUSTED will be opening. Stage EIghteen, the greatest venue in Fayetteville. Always something different, entertaining, and unique! Great Drinks, too!

 Artist and educator Joel Armstrong will feature two series of rust-related artworks throughout the month of September at  Stage Eighteen . Join us for a free opening reception held during First Thursday from 5-9pm on the evening of September 7.   Joel's work is a culmination of his practice, influenced by his education, personal experiences, readings, and world history. He highlights both rust and gold, examining rust as a force that can wear down strong materials, while gold harkens to renewal and continued enriching experiences. All artworks will be for sale at various price points.   Artist Statement: My installations have always based on stories. Whether these stories were from personal memories of growing up, family history, or those shared with me—stories led my artwork. There was safety in those stories, and if a viewer dug deep enough or long enough, they could always find the clues to understanding my work. In a way, the wire pieces mirrored the originals in the form of rust paintings.   Along with these stories was a personal vocabulary in the materials I used, which included wire and rust. The wire I used for over 15 years was baling wire; a staple traditionally used to bind up, shut out, and fence in a family or homestead from the unknown, or in some ways, from actually being known. Having been someone who always dealt with depression, when I read Andrew Solomon’s book The Noonday Demon, I was enlightened to read “Mild depression is a gradual and sometimes permanent thing that undermines people the way rust weakens iron.”  I attended a workshop called "100 Drawings" in Bennington, Vermont lead by Dean Nimmer. The workshop focused on allowing intuition to guide your artwork, rather than relying so much on a plan for completion. I brought with me my traditional rust patina that I was so comfortable with; however, I didn't allow myself to take along the wire which was so much the base of all my work for so many years. I also semi-intuitively brought along a gold glaze paint.  Working on three different colored art papers, I began making intuitive marks first with the rust, then gold, and finally a beautiful contrasting blue. The gold proved to be a startling contrast to rust, both in reality and also in theory. The old was being made new again, as the decay of rust was being overtaken and simultaneously enriched by the shimmering gold. The combination of the gold and bright blue made these works come alive in such a way that one might easily imagine how gold and rich colored fabrics filled old world tapestries.  Artist Biography Joel Armstrong grew up in Corpus Christi, TX, where he grew to love fishing, salt air, humidity, and rust. After attending Texas Tech University, he spent over 20 years as an illustrator and graphic designer. Armstrong received his MFA in drawing from Colorado State University in 2001. At CSU, he began working with rusted wire. Recently, Armstrong has started working with nickel/silver wire, rust and gold paintings, as well as aluminum public art pieces. The artist currently teaches drawing and illustration at John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Arkansas.

Artist and educator Joel Armstrong will feature two series of rust-related artworks throughout the month of September at Stage Eighteen. Join us for a free opening reception held during First Thursday from 5-9pm on the evening of September 7. 

Joel's work is a culmination of his practice, influenced by his education, personal experiences, readings, and world history. He highlights both rust and gold, examining rust as a force that can wear down strong materials, while gold harkens to renewal and continued enriching experiences. All artworks will be for sale at various price points. 

Artist Statement:
My installations have always based on stories. Whether these stories were from personal memories of growing up, family history, or those shared with me—stories led my artwork. There was safety in those stories, and if a viewer dug deep enough or long enough, they could always find the clues to understanding my work. In a way, the wire pieces mirrored the originals in the form of rust paintings. 

Along with these stories was a personal vocabulary in the materials I used, which included wire and rust. The wire I used for over 15 years was baling wire; a staple traditionally used to bind up, shut out, and fence in a family or homestead from the unknown, or in some ways, from actually being known. Having been someone who always dealt with depression, when I read Andrew Solomon’s book The Noonday Demon, I was enlightened to read “Mild depression is a gradual and sometimes permanent thing that undermines people the way rust weakens iron.”

I attended a workshop called "100 Drawings" in Bennington, Vermont lead by Dean Nimmer. The workshop focused on allowing intuition to guide your artwork, rather than relying so much on a plan for completion. I brought with me my traditional rust patina that I was so comfortable with; however, I didn't allow myself to take along the wire which was so much the base of all my work for so many years. I also semi-intuitively brought along a gold glaze paint.

Working on three different colored art papers, I began making intuitive marks first with the rust, then gold, and finally a beautiful contrasting blue. The gold proved to be a startling contrast to rust, both in reality and also in theory. The old was being made new again, as the decay of rust was being overtaken and simultaneously enriched by the shimmering gold. The combination of the gold and bright blue made these works come alive in such a way that one might easily imagine how gold and rich colored fabrics filled old world tapestries.

Artist Biography
Joel Armstrong grew up in Corpus Christi, TX, where he grew to love fishing, salt air, humidity, and rust. After attending Texas Tech University, he spent over 20 years as an illustrator and graphic designer. Armstrong received his MFA in drawing from Colorado State University in 2001. At CSU, he began working with rusted wire. Recently, Armstrong has started working with nickel/silver wire, rust and gold paintings, as well as aluminum public art pieces. The artist currently teaches drawing and illustration at John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Arkansas.