Gallery exhibition features retired art professor

“Focusing” by Carmen Armstrong
“Focusing” by Carmen Armstrong

NIU and the DeKalb Area Women’s Center connect again through an August 2013 fine arts exhibition at the DAWC galleries showcasing figurative paintings by NIU School of Art Professor Emerita Carmen Armstrong.

Her oil-on-canvas paintings of human figures and objects in their meaningful environments are available for viewing from 7 to 9 p.m. each Friday this month and by appointment at the DeKalb Area Women’s Center OnStage Gallery and Great Hall Exhibtion Space.

Armstrong recently shared her thoughts on her artistic journey from coloring books, art interest and parental approval to K-12 art teacher, exhibiting artist, art education professor and author to artist again.

In her own words, spoken to DAWC Gallery Director Anna Marie Coveny:

Frequently people ask how long I have painted. That takes me back to coloring books in which the imagery stopped at borders of a page.

Dissatisfied with that, I continued the images and colored them to edges of the page! Grade school art teaching was copying what the teacher put on the blackboard, but I took it seriously and colored evenly. In eighth grade, my mother and dad expressed warm approval that I had a Saturday scholarship to the Ft.Wayne Art Institute and I looked forward to a high school that had art teachers.

The family choice had none; but a pertient, but meek, freshman announced to the principal that I had preferred the school that had five art teachers. His challenge to me was to get 35 signatures of students who would take art if we had an art teacher. Up and down the new hallways I went getting those 35 signatures. The principal kept his word and the English teacher took two classes over the summer and became our art teacher! An opportunity was born.

“Sunday Visit to the Dahlia Bed” by Carmen Armstrong
“Sunday Visit to the Dahlia Bed” by Carmen Armstrong

College started with a joint program at Ft. Wayne Art Institute with Indiana University. Two years carrying 21 hours a semester introduced me to the wide variety of disciplines of art and basis of education. I had found reinforcement for my interest in art and reason to advocate for providing quality art education in all schools as I completed my B.S. in Art Education.

A special person often went with me on outdoor painting trips and lent me his car to use on my first art teaching position in Valparaiso public schools. We married in 1955, 58 years ago.

Teaching art continued in Michigan in one- and two-room schools, then in New Haven, Indiana, and private and community situations. Art interest increased with earning the M.S. in Art Education and Ed.D. in Curriculum: Art Education with both inside and outside minors in painting and drawing. I exhibited in galleries in Denver, Minneapolis, Louisville, Evansille, Ft.Wayne, Des Plaines, Rend Lake, St. Mary’s, Rockford and Detroit.

Two special events have been planned during Armstong’s DAWC showing:

  • A reception will take place at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 23.
  • Armstrong will conduct a session on “How to Look at Art” at 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 26.

Free and open to the public, the galleries are located at 1021 State St. in DeKalb. Parking is available on-street and one-half block south in the lot at 415 N. Eleventh Street. The accessible lift may be entered from the alley adjacent to the north side of the building.

For more information, call (815) 758-1351 or email dawc@niu.edu.

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