Eames Armstrong

I’m an artist, curator, and law student. In other words: I’m a painter and former performer; organizer of interesting people with good ideas; and someone who loves to learn, read, write, critique, and argue.

From the beginning: I came to art school as a painter, photographer, and theater kid. The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston was perfect because it was emphatically interdisciplinary; we had no majors, no required classes, and no grades. I focused on painting, but became very interested in the history and contemporary practice of performance art and sound art. In my academic coursework at Tufts University, I studied art history, creative writing, and philosophy.

When I moved to DC in 2011, I looked for the weirdo experimental performance scene like I had known in Boston. When I didn’t find what I wanted, I started organizing performance art events. For several years, I organized a monthly performance series at a nonprofit gallery in Dupont Circle. In 2013, I curated a major performance art festival in Rosslyn, VA called SuperNOVA, produced by Pink Line Project and sponsored by the Rosslyn BID. I curated events and exhibitions at galleries and alternative venues in DC, Baltimore, NYC, and Boston.

By 2014, I’d started to explore my own performance practice. My most significant work that year, Persephone, was part of the Capital Fringe Festival. Persephone was comprised of six different live performances in collaboration with six different artists with backgrounds in visual art, dance, and political activism. We drew on different aspects of the Greek myth to make works that dealt with themes of vulnerability and empowerment, death and rebirth, and isolation and togetherness.

Also in 2014, I entered the Master in Fine Arts program at George Washington University, where I leaned into the sound components of my performance work and spent a summer studying contemporary dance. My thesis exhibition consisted of an immersive installation and a series of sound and movement performances. The work explored noise as stand-in for non-conforming gender and noise as an alternative to normative meaning-making.

Between 2013 and 2018, I performed alone or in collaboration at galleries and venues including in New York, NY; Boston, MA; Kansas City, MO; Houston, TX; Chicago, IL; Richmond, VA; Philadelphia, PA; Baltimore, MD; Washington, DC; Montreal, QC; and Venice, Italy. Events included the High Zero Festival of Experimental Improvised Music (Baltimore), Sonic Circuits Festival (DC), the Foggy Bottom Outdoor Sculpture Biennial (DC), Ende Tymes Festival (NYC), and many more.

At the same time, I revived my old painting practice. While the performance work I was doing was literally loud and dark and psychologically taxing, I started painting again out of a plain pursuit of pleasure in material, content, and form. My focus remained on the body and on relationships and interaction, but my painting brought the humor that was latent in my performance to the forefront. I continued to perform for a while longer, but by 2016 the focus of my personal practice largely shifted to painting.

Following grad school, I was an emerging curator at VisArts in Rockville, MD; an artist-in-residence at Halcyon Arts Lab in DC; a curatorial summer intern at MoMA in the Media & Performance Art department; a Suzanne Fiol Curatorial fellow at ISSUE Project Room in Brooklyn, NY; and a curator in the Queer | Art | Mentorship program in NYC. I also worked in nonprofits and arts administration in DC and NYC.

Then I applied to law school. Fundamentally, I’m interested in learning. That’s why I’m an artist, curator, whatever - the best thing in life is to acquire a piece of knowledge, however big or small, that alters how you experience or interact with the world.

In 2021, I came to American University, Washington College of Law as a 2024 JD candidate on a Dean’s Merit Scholarship. My hopes for a challenging and rewarding academic environment have been exceeded. As a nontraditional student, I’m stunned to be among the top of my class. I’m interested in art-related law, of course, but also much more. My commitment to the arts has rarely been about the business or transaction as it has been about the ideas, the community, the joy in sharing (in really interesting ways) stuff that is just really interesting.

I’m taking a break from showing work because of law school. But, I’m stewing. I’m learning. Highly recommend going to law school to the insatiable but patient artists out there.

Select Press

Michael Dax Iacovone, Touchy Subjects, BMore Art (2014)

Christina Cauterucci, The People Issue, Washington City Paper (2014)

Andy Johnson, A Queer Celebration of Filth and Resistance, DirtDMV (2017)

Anna Cahn, Emerging LGBTQ Artists Find Hope Amid a Grim Political Landscape, Hyperallergic (2018)

© 2022 Eames Armstrong