Joyce Scott’s beaded social commentary
Recipient of the 2016 MacArthur “Genius” Award, Baltimore-based artist, sculptor, quilter and all-around renaissance woman Joyce Scott tackles controversial subjects via her various artwork. Known for her figurative sculptures and jewelry using bead weaving techniques, similar to a peyote stitch, her pieces are constructed with thousands of glass seed beads and incorporate other objects such as glass, textiles, and leather. Influences behind her work include Native American and African traditions and pop culture.
Scott comes from a long line of artists who also heavily influenced her work. Her mother, noted quilt maker Elizabeth Talford Scott, taught Scott applique quilting skills and encouraged her to pursue a career in art. Woodworkers, basketweavers, chair caners, planters and blacksmiths are other sources of inspiration behind Scott’s work. During the 1960s, Scott’s created paintings, dolls, clothing, and jewelry, but it wasn’t until the 1970s her artwork became recognized. Collaborating with her mother, Scott made colorful flat textiles, using a number of materials including fiber, beads, wire, thread, and other mixed media.
Her handmade pieces range in over-the-top and oversized necklace to figurative sculptures. The MacArthur Foundation describes her intricate beadwork as, “…exquisitely crafted objects that reveal, upon closer examination, stark representations of racism and sexism and the violence they engender. Among her “political” pieces, Scott’s Election Day series features images of President Obama surrounded by faces expressing joy, fear, and anger. A current piece she is working on—an outdoor installation of unprecedented scale—is an homage to Harriet Tubman. Scott says of her work, “It’s important to me, to use art in a manner that incites people to look and then carry something home – even it it’s subliminal – that might make a change in them.”