In Goodnight Moon, a childlike bunny says good night to the contents of her bedroom one by one: "Goodnight, room. Goodnight, moon." The beloved children's book illustrates a familiar and simple ritual through playful means. Ritual and childhood are Zachary Armstrong's main points of origin, mined throughout his diverse practice, from wallpaper and neon signs, to lamps and paintings. Most often it is his own early years or those of his son that are referenced. Armstrong does this partly to conjure a more naïve moment in one's life, emphasizing the difference in knowingness between a former and current self and creating a nostalgic distance in his mind as well as in the viewer.
He often starts with a child’s sketch - a monster, a girl, a self-portrait - and magnifies it, covering a large canvas with layers of encaustic. The work is then dried, scraped and reheated with a hand held heat gun as he repeats the image over and over again. Depending on how many times the original sketch is repeated; he can lose the image completely. This weighty display of effort and repetition brings the work out of the realm of childhood and into the adult world - the reality of working a job, providing for one's family, and doing the daily grind. Armstrong's labored manipulation of his material evokes the routine of responsibility, creating a palpable tension between the demands of adulthood and the carefree routines of children - counting “Z”s, drawing unicorns, and saying good night to a dog named Bojangles.
Zachary Armstrong lives and works in Dayton, Ohio. Goodnight Bojangles will be his first exhibition in Los Angeles, and he will have a solo exhibition at The Depart Foundation in Rome, Italy, in September 2015.