ZEBEDEE "Z.B." ARMSTRONG Zebedee "Z.B." Armstrong Main < BACK

Born on October 11, 1911 in Thomson, Georgia he attended school through the eighth grade. He married Ulamay Demmons in 1929 and she died in 1969, and they had two daughters. He is an African American folk artist who creates complex, often boxlike calendars for predicting the end of the world. Like his father before him, Armstrong worked for much of his life on the Mack McCormick farm picking cotton. After the death of his wife, Armstrong went to work for the Thomson Box factory and remained there until he retired in 1982.

In 1972, and angel visited Zebedee Armstrong and proclaimed, "You have to stop wasting your time because the end of the world is coming." Armstrong took the angel at its word and began working night and day in order to devise a calendar to predict the occurrence of this catastrophic event. Armstrong was discovered by Tom Wells, a dealer and collector in Thomson, Georgia. Armstrong's compulsive theme is time, and his goal is the design of a calendar for the prediction of the end of the world. He has made hundreds of calendars over the years, all in different sizes and shapes.

Some of Armstrong's calendars are constructed of wood, which he nails together into boxes that are irregular in shape. Others are done on flat paper or cardboard. The artist also paints on reclaimed objects such as mailboxes, urns, and vending machines. He paints the piece white, then lines it with grids he calls "taping." Taping and lettering are done with a permanent felt marker. Some of the calendars have clocklike constructions with movable hands affixed to their faces (calendar wheels). The calendars contain lettered segments and divisions representing the past or the future and are colored mostly with black, red, white, and blue.

Armstrong has made about six hundred works, varying in size from a flat calendar that measures 6 by 11 inches to a large painted wardrobe. Although Zebedee Armstrong's work is not well known in the folk art community in general, collectors of southern black folk art have discovered him and prize his complicated, boxlike calendars. He has been shown at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia.



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