Joel Armstrong was raised in Corpus Christi, TX, where he grew to love fishing, salt air, humidity and rust. He attended Texas Tech University, and spent over 20 years as both an illustrator and graphic designer. While art director of Group, a magazine for youth ministers, at the age of 39, Joel returned to College to receive his MFA in drawing from Colorado State University (2001). At CSU, Joel began to work in wire, and then became interested in Installation art. He has continued to do wire installation for over 10 years after graduation. He uses baler wire, and has been rusting the wire since he first began bending and twisting the medium. He currently teaches drawing and illustration at John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Arkansas. He is married, and is father of 3.
As an installation artist, the entire gallery becomes my canvas. My art is an extension of real life and offers connections with memories, feelings, and expressions that the steady sound of a sprinkler can resurrect, or the bright sounds a happy bird can bring to mind. I tell stories that reflect our human experience.
In graduate school, I questioned the idea of what a drawing is, or can be. Instead of traditional materials, I chose baling wire, because it most naturally defined me. The sturdiness of the metal, combined with its soft subtle curves makes wire a great drawing instrument. I create wire drawings of everyday items, which I finish off with a rust patina that intentionally references back to my childhood memories of living on the gulf coast of Texas.
Time and space are integral to my compositions. I collect wire drawings into gatherings that either attach to the walls or suspend from the ceiling. I add sounds, light and sometimes even smells that work together with the drawings to create a multi-sensory environment. My aim is to make people feel at home and offer them time to absorb each piece and to be a part of something special, something bigger, something spiritual.