Joyce Scott's multimedia exhibition, Truth and Visions, highlights gender and identity


Scott’s piece, “Look Mom, a Doctor!” Photo courtesy of Joyce J. Scott

Margaret Wilbourne

In the interlude after a lengthy introduction peppered with accomplishments, a soulful wail suddenly commanded the room: Joyce J. Scott, artist, had arrived. 

Following her a cappella performance of “And When I Die,” Scott began describing the familial and cultural inspirations that help make up her multimedia exhibition, Truths and Visions, currently on display in the Sarah Moody Gallery of Art.The collection, spanning several decades, is made up of contemporary sculptural pieces created using blown glass, beads, coins, needlework, and found African artifacts. Several pieces are created using traditional techniques learned by Scott, like the peyote stitch that she picked up from a First Nation woman in the 70s.

“I wanted to be someone who helped push along a technique, not as only ‘women’s work’ or as a cultural statement; I wanted it to be art,” Scott said. “I was trying to extend traditions.”

William Dooley, director of the SMGA, pointed out that Scott’s work highlights several themes especially coveted by the artist, referring to it as a “literal fabric of work.”

“Her work and pieces bring into the fold gender and identity, and comments using humor,” Dooley said. “For example, the piece ‘Look Mom, a Doctor!”, [which depicts a young woman on the arm of a man in a white lab coat], is confrontational and crosses gender lines.” 

Grace Kyle, a junior majoring in history, said the message Scott implements in her work is useful socially.

“Humor is one of the rare tools that can [breach] political opinions, and takes the tone to a level where you comfortably appreciate it,” Kyle said. “It makes the experience more human and unifying.” 

Scott, whose work now resides in collections of institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art in New York, various Smithsonian galleries in DC, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, never forgets her past.

“I’m a round-the-way girl – I’m a great example that you can come from humble beginnings and become a world traveler,” Scott said. “I picked up that ‘go-get-it-ness’ from those people who have no money, but they don’t stop.”
Scott also discussed her past and future relationship with her art.“I’ve been self-employed for 40 years, I made my way. But I [recently] learned that I can still amaze myself and be in love with my work,” Scott said. “Wanting to be inspired, to keep going in the studio, that’s a quest we all need to be on.”

Scott’s exhibition will be on display through October 16th in the Sarah Moody Gallery of Art, located at 103 Garland Hall.