Widely exhibited both domestically and abroad, MacArthur Fellow Dr. Joyce J. Scott is known for producing beautiful, complicated works that address the unpleasant veracities of the human condition including war, racism, misogyny, rape, police brutality, and gun violence. Scott is represented in distinguished public and private collections worldwide and has been the recipient of myriad accolades including three honorary doctorates. Working with beads and glass, Scott’s practice speaks truths as one of the most potent storytellers of our time.
MacArthur ‘Genius’ Fellow, Joyce J. Scott (b. 1948, Baltimore, MD) is best known for her figurative sculpture and jewelry using free-form off-loom bead weaving techniques similar to the peyote stitch, as well as blown glass, and found objects. As an African-American, feminist artist, Scott unapologetically confronts difficult themes as diverse as her subjects which include race, misogyny, sexuality, stereotypes, gender inequality, social disturbance, economic disparities, history, politics, rape, and discrimination. Born to sharecroppers in North Carolina who were descendants of slaves, Scott’s family migrated to Baltimore where Joyce was born and raised. The artist hails from a long line of makers with extraordinary craftsmanship adept at pottery, knitting, metalwork, basketry, storytelling, and quilting. Over the past 50 years, Scott has also established herself as an innovative fiber artist, print maker, installation artist, vocalist, and performer. Her art leverages its impact with her wry, subversive humor, and engages hardened stereotypes that demand honest examination.
In 2017, Scott and her primary gallery, Goya Contemporary, opened her largest exhibition to date at Grounds For Sculpture in New Jersey. In addition to historic and recent objects, Scott realized 2 large-scale site-specific works focused on the abolitionist Harriet Tubman, created at the Johnson Atelier. Of the two, Araminta, a 10 foot tall avatar of Harriet, traveled to the inaugural Open Spaces Kansas City, whereas Graffiti Harriet, a 15-foot earthen work made of mixed media—including beads, compressed soil, clay, and straw—stayed onsite at Grounds For Sculpture, intended to disintegrate over time. Other projects include glassworks made on the Italian island of Murano, Italy, which were exhibited in the 2013 Venice Biennale collateral exhibition Glasstress, and a major exhibition at the Baltimore Museum of Art (2000 and again in 2019).
Scott has been the recipient of myriad commissions, grants, awards, residencies, and prestigious honors from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation, Anonymous Was a Woman, American Craft Council, National Living Treasure Award, Lifetime Achievement Award from the Women’s Caucus for the Arts, Mary Sawyers Imboden Baker Award, and MacArthur Fellowship (2016), among others. In April of 2019 she was honored by the Smithsonian receiving the Visionary Artist Award.
Joyce J. Scott earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Maryland Institute College of Art, and a Master of Fine Arts from the Instituto Allende in Mexico. In 2018, she was awarded an honorary fellowship from NYU, and an honorary doctorate from MICA. And in 2019, she was awarded an honorary doctorate from CalArts. Scott’s work is included in many important private and public collections including: the Baltimore Museum of Art, MD; Brooklyn Museum of Art, NY; National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, DC; Detroit Institute of the Arts, MI; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA; Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, VA; Museum of Art and Design, NY; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; The Smithsonian, Washington, DC; Philadelphia Museum of Art, PA; Reginald F. Lewis Museum, Baltimore, MD; Speed Art Museum, Louisville, KY; Yale University, New Haven, CT; The Mint Museum of Art, Charlotte, NC; Johns Hopkins University; the Toledo Museum; among others.
Represented by Goya Contemporary Gallery in Baltimore, as well as Mobilia Gallery in Boston, and Peter Blum Gallery in New York, Scott opened two companion exhibitions this year in Baltimore at The Baltimore Museum of Art and Goya Contemporary, which will combine and travel to LA in 2020.
“I’d like my art to induce people to stop raping, torturing, and shooting each other. I don’t have the ability to end violence, racism, and sexism. But my art can help them look and think.”
—Joyce J. Scott