John T. Scott

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John T. Scott
John T. Scott.jpg
Born(1940-06-30)June 30, 1940
Gentilly, New Orleans
DiedSeptember 1, 2007(2007-09-01) (aged 67)
EducationMFA Michigan State University
Alma materXavier University of Louisiana
Known forwoodcut, sculpture
AwardsMacArthur Fellow

John T. Scott (June 30, 1940 – September 1, 2007) was an American sculptor, painter, printmaker, collagist, and MacArthur Fellow.[1] The works of Scott meld abstraction with contemporary techniques infused with references to traditional African arts and Panafrican themes.

Early life[edit]

Scott was born on a farm in Gentilly, a historic section of New Orleans, Louisiana. When he was 7 years old, his family moved to the Lower Ninth Ward.[2] His father was a chauffeur and restaurant cook. Scott said his art training began at home where he learned embroidery from his mother.[3] Scott was raised Catholic.[4]

Education and grants[edit]

After high school, he attended Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans and received a Bachelor of Arts degree. He received his Master of Fine Arts degree from Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan in 1965 where he studied under painter Charles Pollock.[3] Afterwards, he returned to Xavier where he taught for 40 years. In 1983, Scott received a grant to study under the internationally renown sculptor George Rickey.[5] In 1995, Scott received an honorary Doctor of Humanities from Michigan State University and a Doctor of Humanities from Tulane University in New Orleans in 1997. In 1992, he was awarded the exclusive MacArthur Grant (also known as the "Genius Grant") from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.[1] He used the money to build a larger studio.

Works and commissions[edit]

Stony Brook Dance, a 1989 work at Ruggles station in Boston

Scott is best known for creating large woodcut prints and for his African-Caribbean-New Orleans-inspired kinetic sculptures. In 2005, he was the subject of a major retrospective exhibit at the New Orleans Museum of Art entitled "Circle Dance: The Art of John T. Scott."[6] Scott was also commissioned to create several pieces that are placed throughout the City of New Orleans. These public works in New Orleans include Spirit Gates at the New Orleans Museum of Art and Spirit House at DeSaix Circle (at St. Bernard and Gentilly Boulevards) in the Seventh Ward and River Spirit at Woldenberg Park along the Mississippi River near the Port of New Orleans.[7] Scott had been quoted as saying that he tried to capture the musicality of New Orleans in the colors and rhythms of his sculptures.[8]


Scott's work frequently displayed themes related to African-American life, particularly the rich Afro-Caribbean culture and musical heritage of New Orleans. One of the best examples of this style is his sculpture called ''Ocean Song" located in Woldenberg Park (New Orleans). Scott said the rings at the top of the sculpture represented circle dances performed by slaves who frequented Congo Square.[9] He is also known for his use of divergent materials in constructing his art, such as cast bronze, thin brass strips of wire and bent hardwood to create provocative sculptures.[10]


John T. Scott’s works are exhibited in several permanent collections including:


Scott fled New Orleans just before Hurricane Katrina made landfall in August 2005 and settled in Houston, Texas. He died at Methodist Hospital in Houston after receiving two double-lung transplants and his long struggle with pulmonary fibrosis.[13]

An exhibition called "Beyond Black" featuring Ed Clark, Eugene J. Martin and John T. Scott opened at the LSU Museum of Art, Shaw Center for the Arts, Baton Rouge, LA, on January 28 – May 8, 2011. The McKenna Museum of African-American Art in New Orleans hosted a tribute exhibition in fall 2014 as a Prospect.3+ satellite exhibition.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "John T. Scott – MacArthur Foundation". Retrieved August 12, 2018.
  2. ^ "John T. Scott, 67; New Orleans artist known for his sculptures". Associated Press, LA Times. Retrieved July 24, 2012.
  3. ^ a b Cotter, Holland (September 14, 2007). "John T. Scott, New Orleans Sculptor Dies at 67". The New York Times. Retrieved April 6, 2016.
  4. ^ Powell, Richard J. (2005). Circle dance: the art of John T. Scott. John Tarrell Scott, New Orleans Museum of Art. New Orleans: New Orleans Museum of Art. ISBN 1-57806-773-1. OCLC 57342192.
  5. ^ "The Art of John T. Scott". Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities. September 2007. Retrieved April 6, 2016.
  6. ^ a b "LEH Opens John T. Scott Exhibit". Louisiana Endowment for Humanities. Archived from the original on August 1, 2012. Retrieved July 24, 2012.
  7. ^ Stunda, Hilary. "Playing It Straight, Upside-Down, and Backwards: A Conversation With John Scott". Retrieved July 24, 2012.
  8. ^ "New Orleans Native Sculptor John T. Scott Dies (4 September 2007)". Retrieved February 23, 2010.
  9. ^ MacCash, Doug (February 1, 2012). "John T. Scott: The Times-Picayune Celebrates 175 Years of New Orleans History". Times-Picayune. Retrieved April 6, 2016.
  10. ^ Lewis, Samella S. African American Art and artist, Revised and Expanded Edition (Berkeley:University of California Press March 2013)
  11. ^ Recent acquisitions: John T. Scott in Scripps College
  12. ^ McCauley, Mary Carole. "Baltimore Museum of Art to sell works by masters such as Andy Warhol, will aim to improve artist diversity". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved May 14, 2018.
  13. ^ "Sculptor John T. Scott fights for his life (4 September 2007)". Retrieved February 23, 2010.
  14. ^ "The McKenna Museum of African-American Art". The McKenna Museum of African-American Art. Retrieved November 18, 2015.

External links[edit]