Sunday, November 20, 2016

Judith Scott @ World of Threads

Judith Scott show at Oakville Galleries, Centennial Square

Recently I had the good fortune to visit the World of Threads, a biennial celebration of fibre art staged in the Oakville area, just west of Toronto. Imagine: 315 artworks by 134 artists from 24 countries, all available for viewing until November 27, 2016.

One of the shows organized as part of the festival is dedicated to the work of Judith Scott, whose fibre sculptures form an interesting counterpoint to the Sheila Hicks exhibition that I posted about earlier this week.

Judith Scott (1943-2005) was deaf and born with Down syndrome. She was institutionalized for 35 years, until her twin sister became her guardian and introduced her to the Creative Growth Art Center in Oakland, California. There, Scott went on to produce a complex, far-reaching and masterful body of work in the 18 years that followed until her death. Four films have been produced about her life, and her sister has recently published a biography of her twin.

The curator's notes read, in part,
"Developing a broad spectrum of forms from the sparest of materials, late American artist Judith Scott ... is best known for her dynamic, strikingly original mixed media works. Enveloping found objects - from wood, jewelry and magazines to bicycle wheels and plastic tubing - in yarn, thread and knotted cloth, Scott's works take shape as dense, often cocoon-like structures notable for their canny approach to colour, texture and form."

Of the 30 or 40 pieces on display, no two are alike. The show itself is comparable to others I have seen in the medium, given the complexity, innovation and intentionality of the works.  Fascinating questions are raised by this exhibit about the creative capacity of the intellectually disabled, and about the whole concept of "outsider art".

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