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John Brown University's latest art exhibit "VORTEX: An Installation" features the multisensory work of retiring Professor Joel Armstrong.

The exhibit runs Jan. 11 through Feb. 11 at the JBU Main Gallery. A reception and gallery talk by the artist is scheduled for 6 to 7:30 p.m. Jan. 18.

Vortex is defined as a whirling mass of air, as a tornado; or a feeling or situation that has so much power and influence over a person that they feel they are not in control. Both of these definitions could apply to Armstrong's installation, according to a press release from the university.

Armstrong explained that his first installation at JBU was named "Clothes-lines." It featured a day's worth of laundry from his home but also represented childhood memories of the rusted clothesline poles that spread across the backyard of many homes, with the universal sound effects that defined those backyards such as a sprinkler, lawnmower, kids playing, dogs barking and birds chirping, he said.

"Soon after I started to teach at JBU, I exhibited 'Clothes-lines,' and I find it appropriate to end with this updated version," he said. "With VORTEX, the sounds have been replaced by an impending tornado, as the rusted wire drawings that have defined my art career spin around the gallery in chaos."

Armstrong is best known for his "wire drawings," and his work is frequently seen in galleries and art centers throughout Northwest Arkansas and across the country. Now that he is retired, he is pursing a full schedule of gallery shows and installations.

"Joel is a well-loved professor and this show is our farewell to him," said Bobby Martin, gallery director.

Armstrong said his retirement makes him feel 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," he said. "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 circling 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."

The JBU Main Gallery is located in the Windgate Visual Arts West building on the JBU campus. It is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 2 to 4 p.m. on Sunday. For more information, visit or

General News on 01/10/2018

Print Headline: 'VORTEX: An Installation' coming to JBU

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