Zebedee Armstrong


(“Z.B.”) (1911–1993)
received a vision when he was in his sixties telling him that “the end of the world is coming” and to stop “wasting your time.” This awesome message compelledArmstrong to start constructing three-dimensional calendars to predict the date and time of this apocalypse. He created hundreds of these calendars by the time hedied, all of which employed a very distinct visual vocabulary and palette. Using primarily red and black felt-tip markers, the artist would first delineate his surface with agrid design, a technique he called “taping.” Then he would affix a numerical calendar system onto the grid using a variety of surfaces, such as cardboard boxes, paper ephemera, wooden understructures, mailboxes, containers, and other found three-dimensional objects. Some sculptures have moving parts, such as the hands on aclock or the points of a star, which can rotate to various days and months on the constructed calendar; this movement aided the artist in calculating the exact date of thefinal judgment. These embellished objects crowded the interior of the artist’s home, creating a distinct, visually exciting environmental and sculptural display.Armstrong was born in, and never left, Thompson, Georgia. He was a cotton field worker most of his life; he started working in a box factory as a foremansometime in the 1970s. Upon retiring from factory work in 1982, the artist devoted more time to his calendar creations. Having grown up in a rural farming community,Armstrong had a lifetime of practical experience in making things, whether it was chairs, benches, and cupboards, or his artistic calendar constructions.
See also
Environments, Folk; Visionary Art
Manley, Roger.
The End Is Near: Visions of the Apocalypse, Millennium and Utopia.
Baltimore, 1997.McWillie, Judith.
Even the Deep Things of God: A Quality of Mind in Afro-Atlantic Traditional Art.
Pittsburgh, Pa., 1990.Sellen, Betty-Carol.
Self Taught, Outsider, and Folk Art: A Guide to American Artists, Locations and Resources.
Jefferson, N. C., 2000.Yellen, Alice Rae.
Passionate Visions of the American South: SelfTaught Artists from 1940 to the Present.
New Orleans, La., 1993