Explore Fiber is a collaborative website showcasing and exploring fiber as a fine art material.
One thing I am enjoying during this quarantined life during COVID-19 are all of the art talks and webinars that can be accessed for free! I can work in my studio and enjoy the presentation – so satisfying! This last week I signed up to attend the American Folk Art Museum’s Discussion – Virtual Insights: Judith Scott. This program is outstanding, and I encourage you to spend the time watching it yourself.
Judith Scott’s work resonates with me on many levels. I had a dear family member that was intellectually disabled, and I spent many years interacting with her and her friends in their community. It was touching to see the social connections, the love, and the support that they gave each other. They had many of the same wants and desires that people without disabilities do, and my cousin was lucky to have a caring community to live in.
As a recently retired visual arts educator, Judith’s story also resonates with me as I had many students that had various special needs and disabilities from total blindness, intellectual and physical disabilities, to those who were on the spectrum of autism. These students challenged me in so many ways to help them with the making of art that was unique to them, and the rewards that came out of our mutual explorations were deep and meaningful to student and teacher alike! Judith was so fortunate that she was a member of Creative Growth, a non-profit based in Oakland, California that serves artists with disabilities by providing a professional studio environment for artistic development, gallery exhibition, and representation. Be sure to check out the Creative Growth artist page! It’s really exciting to see the breadth and depth of the artist’s creative expression!
And, as a fellow fiber artist, I marvel at the aesthetic sensibilities Judith exercised in creating her fiber sculptures. I too have a passion for working with fiber in a sculptural way and love her approach of burying other objects or small sculptures deep into the work that she is creating. It reminds me of Christo’s early work, the packages. Both artists played with the concept of revealing and concealing, creating a sense of mystery to the final artwork, and allowing the viewer to conjecture what might be at the heart of the sculptural form.
Finally, it was pure happenstance that I stumbled upon a retrospective exhibit of Judith’s at the Brooklyn Museum in November 2014. Judith Scott – Bound and Unbound was a visual treat and I enjoyed discovering not only her work but her life story. The photos in this post were snapshots I took of the installation, and in 2016 I made an Explore Fiber blog post about this exhibit and Judith. Such a delight to have her story circle back to me at this time, when I feel isolated in my studio, and like Judith, all I want to do is work on my art.
I was also interested to learn about the book that her sister wrote about Judith, Entwined: Sisters and Secrets in the Silent World of Artist Judith Scott. I see an even deeper dive ahead of me as I will add this narrative to my library. The story of Judith, though peppered with hardships and missteps, ultimately is a story of a passionate artist whose work was freed for the world to see.