Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Unstoppable Judith Scott

I first read about Judith Scott in a Treasures of the Soul Visions magazine from the American Visionary Art Museum five years ago. Judith and her twin sister Joyce were born in 1943. Joyce was born normal and healthy and Judith was born with Down syndrome and a heart condition. She was also born deaf. Judith lived at home with her family for the first seven years of her life but was then torn away and institutionalized. Joyce went on to live a full life in California - she married and had three daughters. Thirty-six years later, after attending a six day retreat focused on conscious living, Joyce decided that Judith should be with her. She had had so little contact with her sister that she didn't even know if Judith was still alive. Joyce located Judith and fought to become her legal guardian. (Please see the link below to learn more about Joyce and Judith's remarkable story).
When Judith came to CA to live with Joyce, she was suffering from a further condition, the syndrome resulting from living for years in a soul-less institution. Joyce enrolled her sister in art classes at the Creative Growth Art Center in San Francisco, and it is there that Judith made these powerful sculptures. This excerpt from the Visions magazine article describes Judith's creative process:
Judith works constantly, but there are moments when, unpredictably, she goes off on "shopping expeditions." She checks various nooks and crannies, even private offices, all over the studio, acquiring magazines, various objects, bits of rejected material, or more yarn. She is almost invisible on these hunting forays, very secretive as she conceals things in her purse or her bags. Her creative process involves theft. Things disappear. Spools of yarn, thread, string, disappear. Wood, cardboard, metal objects, disappear. The people around her have adapted. This is not easy when your purse or wallet, the magazine you were reading, or your car keys are involved. At Creative Growth Art Center theft as a creative principle has been accepted, with the disappearance of thousands of dollars worth of yarn, cord, and string, now budgeted for. Needless to say, Judith's work could never have unfolded in a huge custodial institution.
This process involving theft makes so much sense to me. With every sculpture Judith re-enacted how her life was stolen from her. This was her core issue, and it forms the core of each piece she created. This just kills me.

1 comment:

Gloria Maria Cappelletti said...

Judith Scott cocoons are the most incredible art works i have ever seen. so powerful and true. thank you for sharing also the beautiful pictures.