Magazine article Artforum International

Judith Scott: Brooklyn Museum

Magazine article Artforum International

Judith Scott: Brooklyn Museum

Article excerpt

Judith Scott

BROOKLYN MUSEUM

The effects of an artist's biography on his or her reception may be uncertain but they are hardly insignificant, and "Bound and Unbound," the outstanding survey of the work of the sculptor Judith Scott at the Brooklyn Museum's Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, brings crucial questions about the relation of artmaking to language, affect, and intentionality--the very sort of phenomena that underpin the character of our intersubjectivity--into disorienting focus. Organized by the Sackler's Catherine Morris and White Columns' Matthew Higgs, the show comprises several dozen of the wrapped forms that Scott created during the eighteen years she participated in the studio program at Creative Growth Art Center in Oakland, California. Scott was born with Down syndrome, and her profound deafness went undiagnosed into her thirties; developmentally disabled and unable to speak, the artist never made any comment on her work. Tending to her project almost daily, she would focus on one piece at a time, using both available materials and things she had found herself, until she signaled she was finished by pushing the object away, never to return to it again.

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Though the exhibition, which remains on view until March 29, also includes a handful of drawings, they represent a minor adjunct to Scott's consistently unexpected three-dimensional objects, which are here laid out in two galleries on long, low plinths. Scott made her first sculpture in 1988, roughly a year and a half after she joined the studio group at Creative Growth, gathering together a handful of thin sticks and wrapping them in twine and scraps of fabric to produce a long bundle suggesting a quiver of sorts. The show begins with this piece, and the chronological path the curators chart demonstrates how formally and conceptually capacious this simple procedure--in which three-dimensional material is bound by and secreted within various layers of fiber and textile--would prove to be for Scott as the material diversity and complexity of her works proliferated over the next decade and a half. The artist deployed colorful threads and twine in increasingly intricate counterpositions with yarn and patterned fabrics as she added to the vocabulary of her very first sculptures an array of flattened shapes, mounded forms, and multipart structures whose arching elements evoke handles or the silhouettes of musical instruments or archers' bows. …

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