Monday, February 09, 2015

Wrapped Together: Creative Growth Art Center and Judith Scott

On 24th Street in Oakland, Calif., sits the world’s first and largest art studio for adults with disabilities. Creative Growth Art Center was established in 1974 and currently has around 150 artists who have mental and/or physical disabilities in its studios. Professional artists teach classes, and the center hosts exhibitions to showcase the art created. One of the most famous among the center’s artists, both past and present, is Judith Scott.

Scott and her twin sister, Joyce, were born in 1943 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Born with Down syndrome and later struck deaf by scarlet fever, Judith was considered to be severely retarded and spent 30 years of her life in a state institution. In 1985, Joyce moved Judith from the institution in Ohio to a group home in California so that the sisters could be closer. Through a state program that allowed disabled adults opportunities to learn, the Scott sisters found Creative Growth.

The first two years Judith Scott spent at the center were fruitless. She showed little interest in creating art. In one of the classes at Creative Growth, however, professional artist Sylvia Seventy introduced her to the use of fibers and textiles in art, and things took off from there.  Until her death, in 2005, Scott created more than 200 sculptures from yard and “found” items. Scott would tightly wrap and tie layers upon layers of yarn on different items and create colorful, intricate sculptures, some of which were as big as she was. No two pieces are alike, either in structure or color scheme. Her art was how she communicated, and it is as original as she was.

Permanent collections of Judith Scott’s work can be found at Washington State University, the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco, the Museum of American Folk Art in New York City, the Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art in Chicago and the Oakland Museum of California. Internationally, her work can be found in museums in Switzerland, Paris, Prague, Ireland and England. This year, the Brooklyn Museum in Brooklyn, N.Y., is hosting the exhibition “Judith Scott—Bound and Unbound” until March 29. Currently, the Georgia Museum of Art does not own any pieces by Scott.

You can read more about Creative Growth at and about Judith and Joyce Scott on their website, The photos used in this post are from the sculpture gallery and the artist gallery on their website.

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