Joyce J. Scott

1948 | Baltimore, United States
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Joyce J. Scott — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Portrait de Joyce J. Scott, © Joyce J. Scott & Goya Contemporary Gallery, photo © John Dean.

American sculptor and multimedia and glass artist.

Joyce Jane Scott is an artist whose insatiable appetite thrives on the mercurial nature of the human experience, the relationships people formed around each other and the unpredictable profundities of the lived experience. J. J. Scott’s artistic energies are manifest in myriad genres and are immediately recognisable in her beaded and blown glass sculptures, stitched-appliquéd hangings, mixed media wearable art, innovative printing and expansive installations. Concurrent with this proliferation are her outré performances – both scripted and spontaneously conceived and executed. J. J. Scott defies the canons, modalities and isms used to define and locate artists within the realm of contemporary artmaking.

This is not to say that the artistic vision of J. J. Scott is not grounded in a tradition or aesthetic heritage of critical import. The legacy from which her life and work emanate is rooted in the cultural, social, and political legacy of her family. J. J. Scott was born in 1948 to Elizabeth Talford Scott (1916-2011) from South Carolina and Charlie Scott from North Carolina, who met during the Great Migration and settled in Baltimore. The Scott family has deep roots in America’s history of enslavement and sharecropper culture. Particularly important was the fact that both sides of the family were skilled creatives having to depend on improvisation, invention and innovation to “make do with what [little] you have” to survive and thrive. Elizabeth Scott was her daughter’s first artistic mentor, teaching her to bead at five years old, as she began to reactivate her own quilt creations while Joyce finished her education at the Maryland Institute College of Art and Instituto Allende in Mexico. Mother and daughter lived together, worked in their studios and developed a catalytic call and response relationship that catapulted both their storytelling artistries into national and international prominence.

J. J. Scott brings a unique vision to sculpture – traditionally a genre of monumentally, permanence, and grandeur historically dominated by white male artists. Her gender, race and class defies that canon. More ironic is the reinvention of the bead as a form of sculpture of critical and emblematic import. J. J. Scott elevates one of the oldest iconic objects used by early humans to express and affirm complex belief systems in human history. Her voice powerfully asserts the rationale for her creativity.

J. J. Scott has received numerous recognitions including the National Endowment for the Arts, Maryland Arts Council, Anonymous Was a Woman, Tiffany Comfort, Smithsonian’s Visionary Award, American Craft Council and the MacArthur Fellowship Genius Grant in 2016. Her works are included in numerous museums and private collections.

Leslie King-Hammond

A biography produced as part of “The Origin of Others” research programme, in partnership with the Clark Art Institute.


© Archives of Women Artists, Research and Exhibitions
Joyce J. Scott — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Joyce J. Scott, Africa, 1980, glass beads, threads, 14 ½ x 10 x ½ in., Smithsonian American Art Museum, gift of Elenore T. and Samuel J. Rosenfeld in honor of Kenneth R. Trapp, © Goya Contemporary Gallery and the Estate of Joyce J. Scott.

Joyce J. Scott — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Joyce J. Scott, Catch a Nigger by His Toe, 1987, beads, wire, thread, 8 x 10 x 14 in., collection of Oletha DeVane, Baltimore, © Goya Contemporary Gallery and the Estate of Joyce J. Scott.

Joyce J. Scott — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Joyce J. Scott, Rodney King’s Head Was Squashed Like a Watermelon, 1991, beads, thread, 5 ½ x 12 ½ x 9 in. (14 x 31.8 x 22.9 cm), Philadelphia Museum of Art, © Goya Contemporary Gallery and the Estate of Joyce J. Scott.

Joyce J. Scott — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Joyce J. Scott, Procreation, 1994, glass beads, thread, 11 ¼ x 11 ½ x 1 3/4 in., Racine Art Museum, Wisconsin, gift of Dale and Doug Anderson, © Goya Contemporary Gallery and the Estate of Joyce J. Scott.

Joyce J. Scott — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Joyce J. Scott, Mother’s Hand, 1997, beads, thread, wire, 6 ¼ x 4 ½ in. (15.9 x 11.4 cm), © Goya Contemporary Gallery and the Estate of Joyce J. Scott.

Joyce J. Scott — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Joyce J. Scott, Lynching Necklace, 1998, peyote stitched beads, thread, 11 x 8 ½ in. (27.9 x 21.6 cm), Baltimore Museum of Art, © Goya Contemporary Gallery and the Estate of Joyce J. Scott.

Joyce J. Scott — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Joyce J. Scott, Lynched Tree, 2011-2012, plastic and glass beads, blown glass, thread, wire, wood, metal, repurposed objects, 106 x 42 x 15 in. (269.2 x 106.7 x 38.1 cm), Baltimore Museum of Art, © Goya Contemporary Gallery and the Estate of Joyce J. Scott.

Joyce J. Scott — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Joyce J. Scott, Pretty Girl Veiled, 2012, Nigerian wooden object, plastic and glass beads, thread, fabric, 44 x 24 x 26 in. (111.8 x 61 x 66 cm), © Goya Contemporary Gallery and the Estate of Joyce J. Scott.

Joyce J. Scott — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Joyce J. Scott, Nuanced Veil, 2016-2017, beads, wire, thread, 35 x 52 ½ in. (88.9 x 133.3 cm), Toledo Museum of Art, © Goya Contemporary Gallery and the Estate of Joyce J. Scott.

Joyce J. Scott — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Joyce J. Scott, Sex Traffic 2, 2017, blown glass, metal, glass beads, thread, wire, 10 ½ x 31 ½ x 8 in. (26.7 x 80 x 20.3 cm), © Goya Contemporary Gallery and the Estate of Joyce J. Scott.

Joyce J. Scott — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Joyce J. Scott, Beaded Graphic Novel: Episodes About a Demon, White 1, 2019, beads, thread, 17 ½ x 24 in. (44.5 x 61 cm), © Goya Contemporary Gallery and the Estate of Joyce J. Scott.

Joyce J. Scott — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Joyce J. Scott, Harriet’s Quilt in a Trunk, 2016-2022, plastic and glass beads, yarn and knotted fabric by Elizabeth Talford Scott, polyester fabric, painted stainless steel armature, 103 ½ x 79 ½ x 6 in. (262.9 x 201.9 x 15.2 cm), private collection, San Francisco, © Goya Contemporary Gallery and the Estate of Joyce J. Scott.

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