Judith Scott—Bound and Unbound
Judith Scott—Bound and Unbound will be on view in the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum from October 24, 2014, through March 29, 2015. Focusing on Scott’s critically acclaimed fiber-wrapped, three-dimensional constructions, the exhibition features more than sixty works, including a selection of works on paper.
Judith Scott was in her mid-40s when she began making art at Creative Growth Art Center in Oakland, California. Born with Down syndrome, and largely deaf and mute, she was institutionalized in Ohio for thirty-five years before her twin sister introduced her to Creative Growth’s unique studio program for artists with developmental disabilities in 1987. For eighteen years, until her death in 2005, Scott worked with a single-minded devotion on producing idiosyncratic and increasingly complex pieces assembled from found materials encased in thread, yarn, torn fabric, and other fibers.
Focusing intently on one work at a time, she fashioned each piece over a period of weeks or months, before signaling definitively that the object was finished—and then promptly moved on to start a new one. It was the process itself of making her objects that drove her creativity. Scott would carefully and methodically assemble a work by tying, weaving, binding, and enveloping a found object—or multiple found objects—ranging from something as small as a ring or a piece of paper, to a bundle of twigs, an electric fan, a child’s chair, or a shopping cart. The original inspirational object was often ultimately enveloped and hidden. Although Scott worked intuitively and without apparent influences or precedents, the result of her efforts is a remarkable body of highly sophisticated and multilayered sculptures closely related to current developments in contemporary art.
Presented in the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, Judith Scott—Bound and Unbound brings the work of an artist personally removed from politics into a conversation about the role that second-wave feminism and the disability rights movement played in making it possible for her to become an artist understood today as significant and influential. The exhibition critiques the long, unresolved, and losing struggle to categorize and quantify art by people with disabilities into a discrete school or movement, intentionally removed from the larger frames of social and cultural history. Ultimately, the exhibition also presents a voice in the contemporary art world that resonates and engages, and also challenges us with complex questions about how best to balance exceptional biographical narratives within larger critical discussions of an artist’s work.
Judith Scott—Bound and Unbound is organized by Catherine J. Morris, Sackler Family Curator for the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, Brooklyn Museum, and Matthew Higgs, artist and Director/Chief Curator of White Columns, New York. The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue published by the Brooklyn Museum and DelMonico Books-Prestel.
work from Judith Scott
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