Metamorphosis: The Fiber Art of Judith Scott


by John MacGregor

183 pp ; 50 color and B/W photographs
Published in September, 1999
Publisher Creative Growth Art Center
ISBN 0967316006

Judith Scott, a sixty year old woman with Down’s Syndrome, has spent the past fifteen years producing a series of totally non-functional objects – obsessively wrapped, knotted, braided fiber masses revealing hints of concealed scavenged objects, pieces which loom large and wraithlike or sit as small tightly wound secrets. Her works, to us, appear to be works of Outsider Art sculpture, except that the notion of sculpture is far beyond her understanding. As well as being mentally disabled, Judith cannot hear or speak, and she has little concept of language. There is no way of asking her what she is doing, yet her compulsive involvement with the shaping of forms in space seems to imply that at some level she knows. Does mental retardation invariably preclude the creation of true works of art? Is it plausible to imagine an artist of stature emerging in the context of massively impaired intellectual development?

Metamorphosis charts a remarkable body of work over a period of 12 years in the Creative Growth Art Center studio in downtown Oakland, California. The inner world of an Outsider artist is revealed in Judith Scott’s fiber sculptures and made accessible to the reader by the poetic prose of author John MacGregor.

This lovely hardcover book is illustrated with beautiful color photographs by internationally renowned photographer Leon Borensztein.

For more information about Judith Scott and her artwork, click here.

About the Author
John MacGregor, Ph.D. is a Princeton-trained art historian and a recognized authority on psychiatric and outsider art. Dr. MacGregor was the 1990 recipient of the Ernst Kris Prize of the American Society of the Psychopathology of Expression.

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