The late Judith Scott was an American artist who wrapped multicolored fibers around found objects to create intricate wrapped sculptures, likened to cocoons that envelope and hide the material beneath. Her work obscures the object central to the composition into something magnificent and poignant as the wrapping changes the context of the original entity into something entirely different and completely unique.
Born in 1947 with Down syndrome and pre-lingual deafness, Scott was unable to speak and lived in an institution for most of her life. In 1987, her twin sister Joyce took Scott to the Creative Arts Center in San Francisco, where art therapy was used improve the lives of disabled adults. There Scott was introduced to fiber art and began taking found objects and wrapping them to create the fiber sculptures she is known for.
While her biography is important, Judith Scott’s work exists mostly separate from her disabilities. She was un-bound by the need to understand art history or take inspiration from others; she instead expressed her limitless and unique imagination. Gotthardt once described the relationship between Scott and her works: “In a well-known photo of Scott by Leon A. Borensztein, she hugs one of her sculptures. The two forms—Scott’s body and that of her creation—seem to melt into each other. These are distinct shapes you might, in this instance, mistake as one.” By placing small valuables and meaningful objets into her sculptures, these physical works became extensions of Scott and her intimate secrets.
Throughout her ten years making fiber art, Scott continually worked on more complex forms and embraced more complex materials as she used twine, yarn, and assorted textiles to assemble her unique pieces. While she was featured in major shows in Japan, New York, and Switzerland as early as 2001, Scott had no concept of or care for the validation that it represented. She died in 2005 at the age of 61, leaving behind a vast portfolio of work created in a mere ten years. Her sculptures continue to captivate people around the world as they examine and imaging the secrets held deep within her intricate mix of yarn, fabric, twine, and found objects.