Profile: Joyce J. Scott (1948-)

Joyce J. Scott is an African-American artist. Named a MacArthur Fellow in 2016, and a Smithsonian Visionary Artist in 2019,  Scott is best known for her figurative sculptures and jewelry using free form, off-loom beadweaving techniques, similar to a peyote stitch. 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. 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. Scott is influenced by a variety of diverse cultures, including Native American and African traditions, Mexican, Czech, and Russian beadwork, illustration and comic books, and pop culture.

Scott is renowned for her social commentary on issues such as racism, classism, sexism, violence, and cultural stereotypes, 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.”

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