The artist Judith Scott (1943–2005), born deaf and with Down syndrome, was the author of a body of extraordinary abstract fiber sculptures, which she made during the last 18 years of her life. Some 60 of Scott’s pieces are being shown at the Brooklyn Museum’s Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, and in Scott’s case, the choice of venue is as important as the work itself.
Scott usually began with one or more found objects—an electric fan, a picture frame, a bundle of sticks—that she’d then wrap in yarn, string, fabric strips and other materials such as candy wrappers and plastic tubing. The final, cocoonlike forms are often organic and crystalline at once, with bulges resulting from successive layers of padding, and faceted effects produced by the line of knots that Scott used when changing colors or joining one part to another.
Forms might be open or closed. One creation, executed mostly in shades of turquoise, sports a series of exuberant, intersecting loops. Another is a gray-green ovoid with blues and pinks streaking one side. Her color sense was sophisticated and grew more so over time—most notably in a late work featuring a tangle of bluish-white plastic hose bound together with yarn dyed blue, orange, olive, lime and ocher. Scott’s art is original, powerful and consistent. It evolved over the course of her life and is of its own time. This show positions Scott and her oeuvre in the context of the feminist movement, and by doing so, has far-reaching implications for the way we consider her efforts and that of other “outsider” artists.—Anne Doran