Joyce J. Scott

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Joyce J. Scott
Joyce J. Scott.jpg
Scott in 2016
Born1948 (age 72–73)
Alma materMaryland Institute College of Art (BFA)
Instituto Allende (MFA)
Known forContemporary craft, quilting, beadweaving

Joyce J. Scott (born 1948) is an African-American artist, sculptor, quilter, performance artist, installation artist, print-maker, lecturer and educator. Named a MacArthur Fellow in 2016,[1][2] and a Smithsonian Visionary Artist in 2019,[3] Scott is best known for her figurative sculptures and jewelry using free form, off-loom beadweaving techniques, similar to a peyote stitch.[4] Each piece is often constructed using thousands of glass seed beads or pony beads, and sometimes other found objects or materials such as glass, quilting and leather.[5] In 2018, she was hailed for working in new medium — a mixture of soil, clay, straw, and cement — for a sculpture meant to disintegrate and return to the earth.[4] Scott is influenced by a variety of diverse cultures, including Native American and African traditions, Mexican, Czech, and Russian beadwork,[6] illustration and comic books, and pop culture.[7]

Scott is renowned for her social commentary on issues such as racism, classism, sexism, violence, and cultural stereotypes,[8] as well as themes of spiritual healing. Her work is about how Scott sees herself in a rapidly changing world: "These works are about personal growth, personal epiphanies and how not to get stuck in the easy ways of life- about art I am fairly fearless but in everyday life I am not."[9]


Joyce Jane Scott was born in Baltimore in 1948, the daughter of noted quilt maker Elizabeth Talford Scott and Charlie Scott Jr.[10] [11] She has described herself as "a true Baltimore babe and Sandtown girl"[12] and has lived in a row house in the Sandtown neighborhood for more than four decades.[13] Her mother encouraged her creativity and Scott began drawing at the Coppin Demonstration School, a public education institution, and later attended Lemmel Middle School and Eastern High School in Baltimore.[14][13] She graduated with Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 1970, and then earned a Masters of Fine Arts from the Instituto Allende in Mexico.[15] Later, Scott pursued further education at Rochester Institute of Technology in New York and Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Maine.[7]

Scott's own mother was an artist who taught Scott appliqué quilting techniques and encouraged her to pursue her career as an artist.[8] One of her earliest artistic endeavors was sewing doll clothes.[6] Scott is also influenced by craft traditions in her extended family of "quilters, woodworkers, basketweavers, chair caners, planters and blacksmiths," where people developed skills in more than one craft so that they could survive.[10] Her love of music and deep sense of spirituality solidified in her upbringing in the Pentecostal faith with its rich tradition in gospel music.[14]

Scott's African influences are manifested in her use of intricate and elaborate decoration. By using techniques similar to West African Yoruba beadwork crowns and regalia, she reconfigures beads into a sculptural format.[14] According to scholar Leslie King-Hammond, African arts and tradition functioned to transform every day objects into beautiful decorations.[7]

Scott's practice includes performance in addition to sculpture. Her unapologetically critical and humorous personality is often employed in her performances to critique issues such as feminism, sexism, and racism.[7] Like her jewelry and quilt works, her performance also often addresses storytelling and memory.[16]

Scott's works are held by the Baltimore Museum of Art, Detroit Institute of Arts, Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum in St. Louis, Missouri, the Mint Museum of Art in Charlotte, North Carolina, the Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas.[17]

Featured exhibitions[edit]


Held at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in 1991, this was Scott's first major solo exhibition. "The title implied the telling of truths, both the straightforward and symbolic kinds. Iconography, the symbols that explain images, and, concomitantly, society, were used by Scott to reveal the hidden motivations behind human interactions."[18] On exhibition were 29 beaded sculptural works and several large fiber-and-fabric wall collages. Included were selections (partly inspired by her mother's stories and work as a nanny) from Scott's Mammy/Nanny series (1986-1991) in which she used glass beads and leather to create racial and value distinctions.[18] [19]

Believe I've Been Sanctified[edit]

This was Scott's first work of public art.[6] In 1991, she was chosen along with nineteen other artists to participate in a new citywide project organized by the Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston. The exhibition was called "Places with a Past: New Site-Specific Art in Charleston" and each artist was invited to select an outdoor site and create a piece that conveyed their sense of the city's community history. Scott chose four Corinthian columns that were the last remaining remnants of the old Charleston Museum. She was told by the people at the African American historical society that "they never wanted us in there anyway" and was inspired.[6] Using found objects and beading, Scott turned the columns into weeping willows to represent tears. Beneath them she constructed a funeral pyre from 500 logs and a figure dying, or a Phoenix, to represent "the end of slavery or the beginning of a new era, Reconstruction."[6]

Images Concealed[edit]

In 1995 Scott responded to the Yale University for the Museum of African Art exhibition Face of the Gods: Art and Altar of Africa and African Americans[20] with an installation titled Images Concealed at the San Francisco Art Institute.[21] Curator Jean-Edith Weiffenbach noted that Scott, "challenged by that exhibition's revelations of the impact of African traditions on Western art, belief systems, and social customs [...] fashioned a reply that uses a contemporary hybrid of craft vocabularies from several cultures in an allegorical language that confronts stereotypes as well as issues of representation and perception."[21]

Kickin' it With the Old Masters[edit]

Kickin' It with the Old Masters was an art exhibition held at the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) in January–May 2000 in collaboration with Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA).[22] "At the entrance to the exhibition space sat Rodin's Thinker, an icon of Western art; above the statue's head Scott suspended a beaded figure hung by the neck by chains and covered with racial epithets."[18] The juxtaposition was not to incite racial accusations but to establish an interaction with aesthetics and social constructs.[18]

Harriet Tubman and Other Truths[edit]

Her largest exhibition to date[23] opened October 20, 2017, and was on view through April 1, 2018 at Grounds for Sculpture.[24] The exhibit, an homage to Harriet Tubman, the abolitionist who led many enslaved people to freedom, was ere organized with guest curator Lowery Stokes Sims for the exhibit, which was seen as a catalyst[23] for transforming the public space created by J. Seward Johnson, the sculptor and philanthropist.[24] This exhibition was guest curated by both Lowery Stokes Sims and Patterson Sims.[25]

Public art installations[edit]

Memorial Pool[edit]

The Memorial Pool in Druid Hill Park
Druid Hill Park Memorial Pool diving board stand

Scott received a commission in 1996 to create a public art project commemorating Pool No. 2 in Baltimore's Druid Hill Park. Built in 1921, it served the recreational and competitive swimming needs of over 100,000 African Americans in Baltimore. When the Baltimore City Parks Board refused to desegregate its pools despite a highly publicized drowning in a nearby river in 1953, the NAACP filed a lawsuit and eventually won on appeal. In June 1956 Baltimore pools opened as desegregated facilities for the first time. Pool No. 2 closed the next year, remaining largely abandoned until 1999 when Scott's installation transformed it. [26]

In designing this functional monument, Scott intended to create an “art situation where people can go into space and hopefully be, and have a variety of uses.” The pool area itself was filled with soil and planted with grass. There were plans to include programming in the grassy area, that people would want to sit, picnic or just relax around the space. In addition to the architectural framing devices and aquatic symbolism, the original installation included abstract, colorful painted designs on the pavement around the pool that have since faded from the concrete surface and disappeared due to time and weather.[27]


Scott's exhibits include:

  • 2020 Visibilities: Intrepid Women of Artpace,[28] Artpace, San Antonio, TX. Curator: Erin K. Murphy
  • 2018 Joyce J. Scott: Harriet Tubman and Other Truths, Grounds for Sculpture, Hamilton, N.J. Curators: Lowery Stokes Sims and Patterson Sims
  • 2016 Generations: Joyce J. Scott | Sonya Clark, Goya Contemporary Gallery, Baltimore, MD. Curator: Amy Eva Raehse
  • 2016 Joyce J. Scott, Fuller Craft Museum, Brockton, MA. Curator: Bruce Hoffman
  • 2015 Joyce J. Scott: Truths & Visions, Sarah Moody Gallery, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa AL(catalog). Curator: Patterson Sims
  • 2015 Joyce J. Scott: Truths and Visions, Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland, OH(Catalogue). Curator: Patterson Sims
  • 2014 Can’t We All Just Get Along?, Goya Contemporary, Baltimore MD (Catalogue). Curator: Amy Eva Raehse
  • 2014 Maryland to Murano: Neckpieces and Sculptures by Joyce J. Scott, Museum of Arts and Design, New York, NY (catalogue). Curator: Lowery Stokes Sims
  • 2012 On Kilter, Goya Contemporary, Baltimore, MD (Catalogue). Curator: Amy Eva Raehse
  • 2012 Joyce J. Scott: A Solo Exhibition of Prints, Film and Performance, The Creative Alliance, Baltimore, MD
  • 2010-2011 Li’l Lies and Purty Thangs, Goya Contemporary, Baltimore, MD (Catalogue). Curator: Amy Eva Raehse
  • 2010 McColl Center for Visual Art, Charlotte, NC
  • 2010 The Wine Dark Sea, The Mitchell Gallery at St. John's College, Annapolis, MD (Catalogue)
  • 2010 Love Letters, Mobilia, Cambridge MA
  • 2008 Joyce J. Scott: PAINFUL DEATH/PAINLESS LIFE, Goya Contemporary, Baltimore, MD (Catalogue) Curator: Amy Eva Raehse
  • 2008 Joyce J. Scott in Tampa, Scarfone/Hartley Gallery, Tampa University, Tampa, FL
  • 2007 Kickin’ It with Joyce J. Scott, Houston Center for Contemporary Art, Houston, TX. Curator: George Ciscle/ Exhibits USA
  • 2007 Kickin’ It with Joyce J. Scott, Polk Art Museum, Lakeland, FL. Curator George Ciscle/ Exhibits USA
  • 2007 Joyce J. Scott: Breathe, Goya Contemporary, Baltimore, MD (Catalogue) Curator: Amy Eva Raehse
  • 2005 Joyce J. Scott, Dirtwork, C. Grimaldis Gallery, Baltimore, MD.
  • 2005 This Hand Washes That Hand Too, Mesa Contemporary Arts at the Mesa Art Center, Mesa, AZ.
  • 2004 Kickin' It with Joyce J. Scott, California African American Museum, Los Angeles, CA. Curator George Ciscle/ Exhibits USA
  • 2004 Joyce J. Scott, Snyderman Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
  • 2004 Joyce J. Scott, Walter Gropius Artist, Huntington Museum of Art, Huntington, WV
  • 2004 Still Alive in 2004, Ward Center for the Arts, St. Paul Schools, Brooklandville, MD
  • 2003 Joyce J. Scott, Untethered, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA
  • 2003 What a Long, Strange, Bumpy Trip it’s Been!, Sculpture & Monoprints by Joyce J. Scott, Center of Contemporary Arts (COCA), St. Louis, MO
  • 2001 Joyce J. Scott, In Search of Self-Unfathomable, Susan Cummins Gallery, Mill Valley, CA
  • 2001 Joyce J. Scott, WTC Series, Goya Contemporary, Baltimore, MD
  • 2000 Joyce J. Scott, Kickin' it With The Old Masters, Baltimore Museum of Art Baltimore, MD (catalogue). Curator: George Ciscle and the students at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA)
  • 2000 Life After Fifty, Noel Gallery, Charlotte, NC
  • 2000 Treacherous Tickles: Recent Sculpture & Prints, Main Gallery, University of Texas, El Paso, TX
  • 2000 Joyce J. Scott, Sybaris Gallery, Royal Oak, MI
  • 1999 Incognegroism, Richard Anderson Gallery, New York, NY
  • 1999 Joyce J. Scott, A Muse, American Craft Museum, New York, NY
  • 1999 Joyce J. Scott, The Radiance of What Is, Contemporary Art Center of Virginia, Virginia Beach, VA
  • 1999 Joyce J. Scott: New Lithographs and Monoprints, Goya Contemporary, Baltimore, MD[29]
  • 1998 Things That Go Bump in the Night II, Gallery 181, Iowa State University, Ames, IA
  • 1996 Joyce Scott, Mixed Bag, Leedy Voulkos Gallery, Kansas City, MO
  • 1995 Images Concealed, San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco, CA (catalogue)
  • 1995 Joyce J. Scott, The Hand and the Spirit, Scottsdale, AZ
  • 1994 Hard Choices, Laumeier Sculpture Park, St. Louis, MO (catalogue)
  • 1992 Joyce J. Scott, Brooklyn College of Art Gallery, Brooklyn, NY (traveling, catalogue)
  • 1992 Dimensional Objects and Jewelry, Politics of the Body, Esther Saks Fine Art, Ltd, Chicago, Illinois[10]
  • 1991 I-con-no-body / I-con-o-graphy, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC (catalogue)
  • 1991 Believe I've Been Sanctified, "Places with a Past: New Site-Specific Art in Charleston," Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, South Carolina
  • 1988 Thru the Veil-, Textile Center for the Arts, Chicago, Illinois[10]
  • 1985 Dreamweaver, The Cultural Center, Chicago Public Library, Illinois[10]
  • 1981 Something Got a Hold on Me, Washington Project for the Arts, Washington, DC[10]
  • 1981 Something Got a Hold on Me, Washington Project for the Arts, Washington, DC[29]

Select honors and awards[edit]

Below are a few selected awards, honors and fellowships Scott has received so far in her career:[30]

Museum collections[edit]


  1. ^ "MacArthur Foundation announces 2016 class of 'Genius' fellows". Newsweek. 2016-09-22. Retrieved 2018-03-10.
  2. ^ Sims, Lowery Stokes (2018). Joyce J. Scott : Harriet Tubman and other truths. Scott, Joyce, 1948-, Sims, Patterson,, Rodney, Seph,, Grounds for Sculpture. Hamilton, New Jersey. ISBN 9780966564488. OCLC 1026351878.
  3. ^ a b "Joyce J. Scott Is Named 2019 Smithsonian Visionary Artist". Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 2019-10-02.
  4. ^ a b "MacArthur Genius Joyce Scott Charts New Artistic Territory". Baltimore magazine. 2018-02-19. Retrieved 2018-03-10.
  5. ^ "Joyce J. Scott". Ruby City. Retrieved 2019-09-06.
  6. ^ a b c d e Sultan, Terrie (September 14 – November 17, 1991). "Joyce Scott: I-con-no-body/I-con-o-graphy". Gallery One.
  7. ^ a b c d "U.S. Department of State - Art in Embassies". Retrieved 2016-04-28.
  8. ^ a b "Joyce J. Scott: U.S Department of State – Art in Embassies". US Department of State. Retrieved 5 September 2019.
  9. ^ Sims, Lowery Stokes (February 23 – April 20, 2007). "Breathe Joyce J. Scott". Goya Contemporary.
  10. ^ a b Maria Gallagher, "The Scotts Reap What they Sew: Artists are Influenced by Slavery, African-American Themes," Daily News (September 8, 1989).
  11. ^ Susan Isaacs, J. (2017). Dark humor : Joyce J. Scott & Peter Williams. Scott, Joyce, 1948-, Williams, Peter, 1952 March 18-, Towson University. Center for the Arts. Towson, MD. ISBN 978-1365804830. OCLC 987343815.
  12. ^ Smith, Tim. "Baltimore artist Joyce Scott named MacArthur Fellow". Retrieved 2018-03-10.
  13. ^ a b Naomi Eftis, Elaine Heffernan. "A woman artist speaks, Joyce Scott interviewed by Naomi Eftis and Elaine Heffernan". Retrieved 2017-03-11.
  14. ^ a b c Ciscle, George (2000). Joyce J. Scott Kickin' It with the Old Masters. Baltimore Museum of Art and Maryland Institute, College of Art. ISBN 0-912298-72-3.
  15. ^ Stankard, Paul J. (Autumn 2014). "Burning Embers". Glass Quarterly.
  16. ^ Smyers, Robyn Minter (2000). "Re-making the past: the black oral tradition in contemporary art". International Review of African American Art. 17: 47–53.
  17. ^ "Joyce J. Scott Online". Art Cyclopedia. Retrieved 2014-02-01.
  18. ^ a b c d Douglas, Andrea (February 24 – April 22, 2001). "Exploring Identity- Works by Contemporary African American Women". Maier Museum of Art/90th Annual Exhibition.
  19. ^ Gips, Terry (Summer 1996). "Joyce J. Scott's Mammy/Nanny series". Feminist Studies. 22 (2): 311–320. doi:10.2307/3178415. JSTOR 3178415.
  20. ^ Thompson, Robert Farris (1995-01-01). "Face of the Gods: The Artists and Their Altars". African Arts. 28 (1): 50–61. doi:10.2307/3337250. JSTOR 3337250.
  21. ^ a b Scott, Joyce (1995). Images Concealed. Jean-Edith Weiffenbach. San Francisco: San Francisco Art Institute. p. 5. ISBN 093049525X.
  22. ^ McNatt, Glenn (2000-01-23). "Laughter, Tears and Social Commentary". Baltimore Sun News. Retrieved 2016-05-10.
  23. ^ a b Princenthal, Nancy (2018). "Inspired by Harriet Tubman, an Artist Takes Glass to Extremes". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-03-10.
  24. ^ a b "Grounds For Sculpture". Grounds For Sculpture. Retrieved 2018-03-10.
  25. ^ LCCN 2018-930401
  26. ^ team, The Explore Baltimore Heritage. "Druid Hill Park Pool No. 2 - Memorial Pool Recalling Swimming during Segregation". Explore Baltimore Heritage. Retrieved 2020-03-26.
  27. ^ "Struggle and Joy in the Druid Hill Park Memorial Pool". BmoreArt. 2018-09-03. Retrieved 2020-03-26.
  28. ^ "Visibilities: Intrepid Women Of Artpace » Artpace". Retrieved 2020-05-23.
  29. ^ a b Scott, Joyce (2000). Kickin' It with the Old Masters - Catalog. Baltimore, MD: Baltimore Museum of Art. pp. 95–96. ISBN 978-0912298726.
  30. ^ Oldknow, Tina (2014). Collecting Contemporary Glass. Corning, New York: The Corning Museum of Glass. p. 276. ISBN 978-0-87290-201-5.
  31. ^ "Museum of Arts and Design Collection Database". Retrieved 2016-03-03.
  32. ^ "Museum of Arts and Design Collection Database". Retrieved 2016-03-03.
  33. ^ "Museum of Arts and Design Collection Database". Retrieved 2016-03-03.
  34. ^ "Collection Search | Corning Museum of Glass". Retrieved 2016-03-03.
  35. ^ Gordon, John Stuart (2017). American Glass: The Collections at Yale. Yale University Press. p. 294. ISBN 978-0-300-22669-0. LCCN 2017957226.

Further reading[edit]

  • Joyce J. Scott: Kickin' It with the Old Masters. Baltimore, MD: Baltimore Museum of Art : Maryland Institute, College of Art. 2000. pp. 108 p. ISBN 0912298723.
  • Stankard, Paul J. "Burning Embers." Glass Quarterly, no. 136 (Autumn 2014): 26-34.
  • Scott, Joyce J. (2015). Joyce J. Scott: Truths and Visions. Sims, Patterson. Cleveland, Ohio: Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland. ISBN 9780989955041. OCLC 910969847.
  • Scott, Joyce J. (1994). Fearless Beadwork: Improvisational Peyote Stitch: Handwriting & Drawings from Hell. Rochester, N.Y.: Visual Studies Workshop. ISBN 0-89822-100-2. OCLC 34341082.CS1 maint: ignored ISBN errors (link)
  • Sims, Lowery S, Joyce Scott, Patterson Sims, and Seph Rodney. Joyce J. Scott: Harriet Tubman and Other Truths. , 2018.

External links[edit]