"I'd like my art to induce people to stop raping. torturing, and shooting each other. I don't have the ability to end violence, racism, and sexism, But my art can help them look and thing." - Joyce J. Scott
Goya Contemporary Gallery is pleased to present a new exhibition of works by gallery artist and MacArthur ‘Genius’ Awardee Joyce J. Scott (Born 1948, Baltimore). Corresponding to her critically acclaimed exhibition Harriet Tubman and Other Truths [which was co-produced by Grounds For Sculpture and Goya Contemporary, with guest curators Patterson Sims and Lowery Sims], this latest exhibition [curated by Amy Eva Raehse] further develops narrative around social and political injustices, sexism, racism, violence, systems of power, and biases within the artist’s personal history, and our collective experience.
Born to sharecroppers in North Carolina who were descendants of slaves, Scott’s family migrated to Baltimore where Joyce was born and raised. The artist hales from a long line of makers with extraordinary craftsmanship adept at pottery, knitting, metalwork, basketry, storytelling, and quilting. Scott made art “in vitro” according to the artist. In reality, the close relationship with her mother, celebrated fiber artist Elizabeth Talford Scott, fostered a creative environment where Scott began to quilt and sew as early as her third year of age. At age five, Scott made her first necklace, a practice for which she is now renowned. Eventually, her creative exploration grew to include the use of beads, and her technique evolved with time and further instruction from a Native American beader who exposed Scott to the free form, off-loom peyote stitch method for which Scott further innovated and is now best known.
Scott’s wide-ranging body of work has crossed styles and mediums, from the most intricate beaded form to large scale outdoor installation. Her recent projects include her 2017 Graffiti Harriet, an earthen work made of mixed media-- including beads, compressed soil, clay, and straw—on site at Grounds For Sculpture and intended to disintegrate over time “like Harriet’s memory did,” returning to the earth but leaving behind a pile of objects that once adorned her 15-foot sculpted figure. Other projects include glassworks made on the Italian island of Murano, which Goya Contemporary arranged for the artist so she may realize works for the 2013 Venice Biennale exhibition Glasstress.
Many of the newly created works in Joyce J. Scott: Still Happening in 2018, integrate her celebrated beadwork with blown glass sculpture created with artisans in Murano, as well as with Tim McFadden Glass Studio in the artist’s home town of Baltimore. Scott repositions craft as a forceful stage for social commentary which stays with the viewer, if not cultivates activism.
“Indeed, you can’t make out what these sculptures are about without coming closer than you feel you should — and seeing things you won’t soon forget” - Nancy Princenthal, New York Times, 2018
This new work conflates gun violence against predominately black men in the United States, with exploitation of children and women, probing crisis’s that plague modern society. In a series of 14 beaded bullets, Scott combines the beauty of the bead with the brutality of the bullet, beading onto them the initials of victims of inhumane ferocity such as Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Rodney King, and Freddie Gray- the later whose cruel treatment and the resulting civic uprising transpired blocks from the artist’s home and studio.
In Harriet’s Rifle 2, the artist links her reverence for nature to her bewilderment of human nature. Glass blown flowers, petals, berries, grasshoppers, bees, bugs and praying mantis comingle atop a daintily blown, striated glass gun. This is not the first time Scott has discussed gun violence. Her exhibition “Can’t We all Just Get Along” [Goya Contemporary, 2014. Curated by this same curator] focused very specifically on gun violence following gun massacres in school, sadly, a state of trauma we have failed to improve four years later. Scott cannot help but absorb the culture around her, however, in her hands horrors are made so strikingly alluring that one is drawn to them, only to be left in shock.
Sex Traffic Two includes a beaded skeleton which appears to be raping the glass blown gun fashioned in the shape of a woman below him. The duo drags yet another beaded woman into the fold, legs spread and arms flailing as she resists being towed and raped. “Each bead strings together a potent message we cannot, and should not ignore. She is making a statement that our survival and our downfall are tied to everyone’s survival and downfall. We are linked like the beads in her work, and we can choose to be an armature for support, or we can opt to drag each other down” says Raehse.
Joyce J. Scott: Still Happening in 2018 delivers a compelling missive about the state of our civilization, today. Still in 2018, we mourn the same failures from our past, but Scott is hopeful that we can stand up and make a change.
Joyce J. Scott received a B.F.A. (1970) from the Maryland Institute College of Art, an M.F.A. (1971) from the Instituto Allende in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Her work has appeared in solo and group exhibitions at the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Museum of Art and Design, Grounds For Sculpture, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Fuller Craft Museum, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Prospect.2, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, among others.
Her work is held in the private and public collections of numerous national and international museums including: Baltimore Museum of Art, MD; Brooklyn Museum of Art, NY; National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, DC; Detroit Institute of the Arts, MI; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA; Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, VA; Museum of Art and Design, NY; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; The Smithsonian, Washington, DC; Philadelphia Museum of Art, PA; Reginald F. Lewis Museum, Baltimore, MD; Speed Museum, Louisville, KY; Yale University, New Haven, CT; among others.
Additionally, Scott has been the recipient of myriad commissions, grants, awards, residencies, and prestigious honors from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation, Anonymous Was a Woman, American Craft Council, National Living Treasure Award, Lifetime Achievement Award from the Women’s Caucus for the Arts, Mary Sawyers Imboden Baker Award, and MacArthur Fellowship, among others.
For more information, please contact Amy Raehse