White Columns is pleased to present a rare exhibition of sculptural objects by Judith Scott (1943-2005). Judith Scott was born in Columbus, Ohio in 1943 with Down syndrome. In 1987, after many years living in isolation, Judith was introduced to Creative Growth – a visionary studio art program, founded 35 years ago in Oakland, California, that serves a community of adult artists with mental and developmental disabilities. For the last eighteen years of her life, before her death in 2005, Judith created the most extraordinary and idiosyncratic objects: fragile structures fastidiously assembled from found and scavenged materials that radically challenge – and resist – our attempts to define or rationalize them as ‘sculptures.’ Working intuitively and without any apparent influences or precedents – art historical or otherwise - Scott’s works are perhaps all the more extraordinary given that Judith was also deaf and mute.
Whilst living in the Bay Area I was fortunate to meet Judith in 2002 during one of my earliest visits to Creative Growth, and over the next three years I had the extraordinary privilege – and pleasure - to watch her at work. Sitting at her work table in Creative Growth’s main studio space Judith would focus on each ‘sculpture’ over a period of weeks or months, slowly but methodically wrapping, assembling, and making final adjustments before determining that a piece was ‘finished.’ The resulting cocoon-like and nest-like structures are of startling complexity and originality and together, I would argue, they constitute one of the most important bodies of work – ‘insider’ or ‘outsider’ – produced anywhere, and under any circumstances, in the past twenty years.