Judith Scott (artist)

Judith Scott (May 1, 1943 – March 15, 2005) was an internationally renowned American fiber sculptor.[2] Judith was born into a middle-class family in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1943 along with her fraternal twin sister Joyce. Unlike Joyce, Judith was born with Down Syndrome. During her infancy, Judith suffered from Scarlet Fever, which caused her to lose her hearing, a fact that remained unknown until much later on in her life.

Judith Scott
Judith Scott, selected by Matthew Higgs at the Museum of Everything.jpg
Artworks by Judith Scott
Born(1943-05-01)1 May 1943
Died15 March 2005(2005-03-15) (aged 61)
MovementFiber art
Outsider art

At the age of seven, she was sent to an Ohio state institution where she remained until her sister became her guardian 35 years later. In 1987 Judith was enrolled at the Creative Growth Art Center in Oakland, California which supports people with developmental disabilities.[3] There, Judith discovered her passion and talent for abstract fiber art. An account of Scott's life, Entwined – Sisters and secrets in the life of artist Judith Scott has been written by her twin sister.[4]


Judith Scott spent her first seven and a half years at home with her parents, twin sister and older brothers. Although the developmental gap between the two girls was apparent, "the parents consciously sought to treat these youngest members of the family alike."[5][6]

However, when it was time for the girls to start attending school, Judith was found to be "ineducable." There was only one classroom for children with disabilities, and Judith was not able to pass the verbally-based entrance tests, due to her still undiagnosed deafness.[7]

Consequently, on medical advice, her parents placed Judith in the Columbus State Institution (formerly the Columbus State School), an institution for the mentally disabled, on October 18, 1950. This separation had a profound effect on both twins.[3]

The records from Judith Scott's first few years at the Institution indicate that she had an IQ of 30 (based upon oral testing before her deafness was recognized). For this reason she was denied any training opportunities. Deprived of her twin, Judith became severely alienated, and behavioral problems soon surfaced. Her Clinical Record states that "She does not seem to be in good contact with her environment. She does not get along well with other children, is restless, eats messily, tears her clothing, and beats other children. Her presence on the ward is a disturbing influence."[5][6] Soon after, she was moved to a smaller state institution at Gallipolis, Ohio.[3]

In 1985, after 35 years of complete separation and lengthy and difficult negotiations, Joyce Scott became her sister's legal guardian, and brought Judith to live with her in California, a state where all mentally disabled citizens are entitled to an ongoing education.[6]

Judith Scott died of natural causes at her sister's home in Dutch Flat, California, a few weeks short of her 62nd birthday.[1][6] She outlived her life expectancy at birth by almost fifty years.[3]


On April 1, 1987, Judith Scott began attending the Creative Growth Art Center in Oakland, one of the first organizations in the world to provide studio space for artists with disabilities.[7] For almost two years, Judith showed little interest in any artistic activity. She was unexceptional with paint. She scribbled loops and circles, but her work contained no representational imagery, and she was so uninterested in creating that the staff was considering ending her involvement with the program.

It wasn't until Judith casually observed a fiber art class conducted by visiting artist Sylvia Seventy, that she had her artistic breakthrough. Using the materials at hand, Judith spontaneously invented her own unique and radically different form of artistic expression. While other students were stitching, she was sculpting with an unprecedented zeal and concentration.

Her creative gifts and absolute focus were quickly recognized, and she was given complete freedom to choose her own materials. Taking whatever objects she found, regardless of ownership, she would wrap them in carefully selected colored yarns to create diverse sculptures of many different shapes. Some resemble cocoons or body parts, while others are elongated totemic poles. Many of her works also feature pairs, reflecting Scott's experience as a twin. Judith worked on her art five days a week for eighteen years, producing over 200 pieces in total.[7]

Judith had her first exhibition in 1999, which coincided with the publication of John MacGregor's book Metamorphosis: The Fiber Art of Judith Scott. Together, these events helped propel her to worldwide recognition.[7]

Scott's work has become immensely popular in the world of outsider art, and her pieces sell for substantial sums.[8] Scott is now hailed as a contemporary artist, no longer just an outsider.[3][9] Her art is held in the permanent collections of many museums, including: Museum of Modern Art (Manhattan, New York), the American Visionary Art Museum (Baltimore, Maryland), Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA, Museum of American Folk Art (Manhattan, New York), Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art (Chicago, Illinois), Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, The Oakland Museum, Oakland, CA. L’Aracine Musee D’Art Brut (Paris, France), Art Brut Connaissance & Diffusion Collection (Paris and Prague), Collection de l'art brut (Lausanne, Switzerland).[10]


In 2006, San Francisco filmmaker Betsy Bayha released the 30-minute documentary Outsider: The Life and Art of Judith Scott.[11] In the same year, Lola Barrera and Iñaki Peñafiel released the feature-length documentary ¿Qué tienes debajo del sombrero? (What's under your hat?) about Scott[12] and Philippe Lespinasse released Les cocons magiques de Judith Scott, a documentary filmed a few weeks before Scott's death.[13] In 2009, Scott Ogden and Malcolm Hearn produced the documentary Make that examined the lives and art-making techniques of Judith Scott and self-taught artists Royal Robertson, Hawkins Bolden and Ike Morgan.[14][15][16]


Sculpture by Judith Scott

Permanent exhibitions:

  • American Visionary Art Museum, Baltimore, MD
  • Collection de l'Art Brut, Lausanne, Switzerland[17]
  • Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA[18]
  • ABCD Collection (Art Brut Connaissance & Diffusion) Paris & Prague
  • Museum of American Folk Art, New York, NY[19]
  • Intuit (The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art), Chicago, IL
  • Collection de l'Art Brut, Lausanne, Switzerland
  • Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, Ireland[20]
  • The Museum of Everything, London, UK.[21]
  • Oakland Museum of California, Oakland, CA.
  • Museum of Modern Art, NYC
  • Lille Métropole Musée d'art moderne, d'art contemporain et d'art brut (LaM), Lille, France[22]

Former Exhibitions:


  • Viva Arte Viva, The 57th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy, May 13 - November 26, 2017[23]
  • Inextricabilia, Maison Rouge, Paris, June 23 - September 17, 2017


  • Judith Scott—Bound and Unbound, Brooklyn Museum, New York October 24, 2014 – March 29, 2015[24]
  • Le Maison Rouge/ABCD Paris
  • Forget Me Not: Judith Scott at Zuckerman Museum of Art, Kennesaw, GA, August–December, 2015[25]
  • A Rare Earth Magnet, Derek Eller Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, July–August[26]
  • The Heart is a Lonely Hunter: Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, CA, June–August, 2015[27]


  • Creative Growth: Dan Miller and Judith Scott, Louisville, KY, Sept. 2013[28]
  • Rosemarie Trockel: A cosmos, New Museum, New York, NY
  • Create: Exhibition at Boca Raton Museum of Art, Florida, 2013[29]
  • Extreme Art, The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, CT, March–August, 2013[30]


  • CREATE: Part II, Cantor Art Gallery – Oct 22- Dec 8, 2012
  • UNRAVELED, Creative Growth, Oakland, CA, Oct-Nov 2012[31]
  • DOWNrightART Exhibition, United Nation s - A Celebration of World Down Syndrome Day, March 2012, New York, NY[32]
  • Judith Scott at Richard Telles Fine Art, Los Angeles, CA
  • Perfect Man: White Columns, New York, NY
  • Everyday Abstract, Abstract Everyday, James Cohen Gallery, New York, NY[33]
  • Rosemarie Trockel: a cosmos, Museo Nacional Centro Arte, Madrid, Spain


Sculpture by Judith Scott
  • Create, UC Berkeley Art Museum, Berkeley, CA[34]
  • Objets Secrets. College des Bernardins, Paris, France
  • International Traveling Exhibition: Museum of Everything, London, UK
  • International VSA Exhibition: Kennedy Center, Washington DC
  • Judith Scott Meets Tribal Art: Gugging Museum, Vienna, Austria
  • Whitworth Gallery, Manchester, England
  • White Columns, New York, NY[35]
  • World Transformers: Art of the Outsiders. Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt, Germany
  • Approaching Abstraction: American Folk Art Museum, New York, NY


  • Bergdorf-Goodman 5th Ave. Window Display, New York, NY
  • Creative Growth exhibition: Galerie Impaire, Paris, France
  • Judith Scott Retrospective: Ricco Maresco Gallery, New York, NY
  • All People Are Me, Headfooters Gallery, Columbus Ohio
  • Oakland Museum of California, at Oakland Airport, CA
  • Reformations, Van Every/Smith Gallery, Davidson, NC


  • The Fabric of Myth, Compton Verney, Warwickshire, UK


  • Barbara Gladstone Gallery, New York, NY
  • Collection de l'Art Brut, Lausanne, Switzerland[17]
  • Outsider Art Fair, New York, NY
  • Forming Lines, Ricco Maresca Gallery, New York, NY
  • Collection de l'Art Brut, Lausanne, Switzerland
  • Outsider Art Fair, New York, NY
  • “Dereconstruction,” Gladstone Gallery, New York, NY


  • Intuit Fair, Chicago, IL
  • All People Are Me, Headfooters Gallery, Columbus Ohio
  • Oakland Museum of California, at Oakland Airport, Oakland, CA
  • Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, CA[36]
  • Outsider Art Fair, New York, NY


  • Jack Fisher Gallery, San Francisco, CA
  • Outsider Art Fair, New York, NY


  • Black Rainbow, Lucky Tackle, Berkeley, CA
  • Down to Art, Japan Down Syndrome Foundation, Tokyo, Japan


  • Cocoon: Judith Scott, Ricco-Maresca Gallery, New York, NY[37]
  • What did we learn? - The Exploratorium, San Francisco, CA


Ode to Judith Ann Scott, by Simon Slate
  • The Fiber Art of Judith Scott, Musee de l’art Brut Lausanne, Switzerland
  • Judith Scott, Palais Joyce, Paris, France
  • Judith Scott, The Shiseido Foundation, Tokyo, Japan
  • The News Gallery, New York, NY
  • Judith Scott, Ricco-Maresca Gallery, New York, NY


  • Treasures of the Soul, American Visionary Art Museum, Baltimore, MD[38]
  • Metamorphosis: The Fiber Art of Judith Scott, Intuit Gallery, Chicago, IL


  • Collection de l'Art Brut, Lausanne, Switzerland


  • Creative Growth Artists, Ricco-Maresca Gallery, New York, NY


  • Visions From the Left Coast, Contemporary Arts Forum, Santa Barbara, CA


  • Windows on the Waterfront, Oakland, CA


  • McCann-Erickson Corporation, San Francisco, CA[39]


  1. ^ a b Marech, Rona (19 March 2005). "Judith Scott -- renowned for her fiber art sculptures". San Franscisco Chronicle.
  2. ^ Downes, Lawrence. "An Artist Who Wrapped and Bound Her Work, and Then Broke Free". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 December 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Entwined: Sisters and Secrets in the Silent World of Artist Judith Scott" Beacon Press, Boston
  4. ^ "Joyce & Judith Scott". judithandjoycescott.com. Retrieved 2017-10-23.
  5. ^ a b John Monroe MacGregor; Judith Scott; Leon Borensztein (September 1999). Metamorphosis: the fiber art of Judith Scott : the outsider artist and the experience of Down's syndrome. Creative Growth Art Center. pp. 44, 50. ISBN 978-0-9673160-0-0. Retrieved 5 September 2011.
  6. ^ a b c d Joyce Wallace Scott: "Entwined:Sisters and Secrets in the Silent World of Artist Judith Scot" Beacon Press, Boston
  7. ^ a b c d "Joyce & Judith Scott". judithandjoycescott.com. Retrieved 2016-02-25.
  8. ^ Artist Emerges With Works in a 'Private Language', by Evelyn Nieves, New York Times, June 25, 2001
  9. ^ "Judith Scott - Bound and Unbound" Brooklyn Museum, 2015
  10. ^ "Judith and Joyce Scott". Judithandjoyce.com. Retrieved 2016-04-22.
  11. ^ Bayha, Betsy. "Outsider: The Life and Art of Judith Scott". Judithscottdocumentary.org. Archived from the original on 2006-07-20. Retrieved 2016-04-22.
  12. ^ "What's under your hat?". Juliomedem.org. Archived from the original on 2011-05-21. Retrieved 2016-04-22.
  13. ^ "Les cocons magiques de Judith Scott". Collection de l'art brut. 2006. Archived from the original on 2008-11-13.
  14. ^ "OUTSIDERS ON THE SCREEN". #67 Fall/Autumn 2009. Raw Vis ion. 2009. Retrieved 28 February 2011.
  15. ^ Taylor, Kate (16 April 2009). "Communicating Across Barriers Few Could Imagine". The New York Times.
  16. ^ Ogden, Scott; Malcolm Hearn (2009). "Make". Retrieved 28 February 2011.
  17. ^ a b "Scott, Judith". www.artbrut.ch. Retrieved 2016-02-25.
  18. ^ "Judith Scott, Untitled, 2000". SFMOMA. Retrieved 2016-02-25.
  19. ^ "American Folk Art Museum - New York City". folkartmuseum.org. Retrieved 2016-02-25.
  20. ^ "The Tail that Wags the Dog: Outsider Art in the Expressionist Tradition". www.imma.ie. Retrieved 2016-02-25.
  21. ^ "The Shop of Everything — judith scott catalogue". shop.musevery.com. Retrieved 2016-02-25.
  22. ^ "Judith Scott". musee-lam.fr. Retrieved 2016-05-17.
  23. ^ "La Biennale di Venezia - Artists". www.labiennale.org. Archived from the original on 2017-06-29. Retrieved 2017-02-22.
  24. ^ "Brooklyn Museum: Judith Scott—Bound and Unbound". www.brooklynmuseum.org. Retrieved 2016-02-25.
  25. ^ "Review: Zuckerman Museum's "Forget Me Not" another thoughtful, visually distinctive exhibit". ArtsATL. 2015-09-09. Retrieved 2016-02-25.
  26. ^ "A Rare Earth Magnet - Exhibitions - Derek Eller Gallery". www.derekeller.com. Retrieved 2016-02-25.
  27. ^ "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter: Curated by Katy Grannan | Fraenkel Gallery". Fraenkel Gallery. Retrieved 2016-02-25.
  28. ^ "KMAC Museum". KMAC Museum. Retrieved 2016-02-25.
  29. ^ "Exhibitions Archive". www.bocamuseum.org. Retrieved 2016-02-25.
  30. ^ Schwendener, Martha (2013-04-05). "A Review of 'Extreme Drawing,' at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-02-25.
  31. ^ "Unraveled". Creative Growth Art Center. Retrieved 2016-02-25.
  32. ^ "6th DOWNrightART Exhibition". www.alexandersangels.org. Retrieved 2016-02-25.
  33. ^ "Paint City". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-02-25.
  34. ^ "Press | BAMPFA". www.bampfa.berkeley.edu. Archived from the original on 2016-03-05. Retrieved 2016-02-25.
  35. ^ Johnson, Ken (2012-07-05). "'CREATIVE GROWTH'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-02-25.
  36. ^ "Yerba buena center for the arts". Artbusiness.com. Retrieved 2016-04-22.
  37. ^ Smith, Roberta (2002-05-03). "ART IN REVIEW; Judith Scott -- 'Cocoon'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-02-25.
  38. ^ "American Visionary Art Museum - Treasures of the Soul: Who is Rich?". www.avam.org. Retrieved 2016-02-25.
  39. ^ "Joyce & Judith Scott". Judithandjoycescott.com. Retrieved 2016-04-22.

Other sourcesEdit

  • Mullin, Rick, "Sculpture", American Arts Quarterly, Fall 2010
  • Joyce Wallace Scott, "Entwined:Sisters and Secrets in the Silent World of Artist Judith Scott", Beacon Press
  • "Judith Scott - Bound and Unbound" Brooklyn Museum, 2015

External linksEdit