Nebraska-to-Austin painter Adrian Armstrong, 29, is the second artist-in-residence at the Line Hotel at Congress Avenue and East Cesar Chavez Street. He was chosen by Big Medium, an art advocacy group, and the hotel to live on-site through Oct. 15 in a suite of rooms that includes a generously sized studio space with a concrete floor. Armstrong recently enjoyed his first solo show at Co-Lab Projects in the Springdale General complex. The public is invited to his open studio at the hotel (5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, 2 to 5 p.m. Thursday and 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday) during the residency. Find out more at thelinehotel.com/austin or bigmedium.org.
American-Statesman: How do people interact with an artist-in-residence at a hotel?
Armstrong: I've met a couple of guests and other people come by and peek in. I've also interacted a lot with the staff; some of them are artists in their own rights. They've been coming up to the second floor and checking out the work. They ask me a lot about what it pertains to, what it means. They're really interested in the "why" of my work, as well as who are the people in these paintings. I let my art talk for me.
What is the "why" of your work?
It's therapeutic. I'm working on depression in the black community, as well as personal battles with it. Just now, I'm putting an emphasis on large-scale portraits of black women. One of the critiques of my work in the past was I have not done enough black women. And when you think about it, black women have played important roles in my life, and there are not enough images of black women in fine arts.
When I saw your solo show at Co-Lab, I was fascinated by the use of tiny coils rendered in ink. They give the images the sensation of texture.
I was doing pointillism, but that took entirely too long. Reading Juxtapose magazine, I came across an artist named Spunky Zoe — her real name is Seungyea Park — and she was using coils. That struck me as a way of still using a pen but not making dots. Sometimes I start with a solid background, or sometimes I do the coils first. It all depends on the effect that I'm going for.