Family Traditions:

Recent Works by Elizabeth T. Scott/Joyce J. Scott
September 8 through November 5, 1989

Elizabeth Talford Scott was born in 1916, the sixth of fourteen children, to a family of sharecroppers near Chester, South Carolina. She began to quilt at the age of nine in the tradition of her father and mother. She married, moved north as a young woman to Washington, D.C. via Greensboro, North Carolina, quilted briefly in the 1930s and 1940s, settled in Baltimore, Maryland and rediscovered her family traditions through the creation of items for her never-married daughter Joyce’s trousseau. (“She had other ideas.”) Because Elizabeth was occupied with domestic work, her quilting lapsed until 1970, when it took on an entirely new style influenced in large part by the woven bead creations of her artist daughter. “Mother” Scott has lectured, demonstrated and exhibited her unique and personal quilts at the Smithsonian Institution, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Studio Museum of Harlem, throughout the southern United States, and in her home town of Baltimore.

Joyce Scott was “born an artist” in Baltimore in 1948 and, except for her studies, has not lived more than twenty blocks from the home she presently shares with her mother. She was educated at the Maryland Institute College of Art (B.F.A.), Instituto Allende in Mexico (M.F.A.), Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, and Rochester Institute of Technology. Traditional beadwork, weaving, papermaking, and contemporary theatre are a few of her exceptional talents. She is a noted craftswoman, performance artist, teacher, curator, and lecturer. Joyce creates original music and theatre as one of two “women of substance” in The Thunder Thigh Revue. Her works have been shown and performed in galleries, museums, and theatres throughout North and South America and Europe.

As a youngster growing up poor in the South, Elizabeth Caldwell Talford Scott quilted from necessity. “Butcher’s cloth and overalls” came from trading for quilts and other barters at nearby cotton mills. Color came from berries, red clay, hickory, and “fleetwood bark.” Squares and rectangles, pieced and sewed … put a few strips together to be warm … then leave them behind … too much to carry, she remembers. Youthful sewing parties found this child threading her parents’ needles as the farmfolk shared their skill and chat. Then, a quilt was a necessity; today, it is “for relaxing. I just sit own and do it. ”

A day in their West Baltimore rowhouse might find mother and daughter in Mrs. Scott’s second floor sewing room sharing animated conversation, TV soap operas, fabric, thread, and generations and several continents of needlework knowledge, learned through the traditional and studied routes. Elizabeth now embroiders and beads her crazy quilts in a style and with imagery all her own, a form of visual communication she considers a substitute for never-perfected-public-speaking talents, which were instead a birthright to her daughter.

Needle mastery was inherited from Elizabeth’s father’s father, and passed on to daughter Joyce in order to make doll’s clothes — her earliest experience with “cut and sew.” “Quilts were not in her education,” either academic or at home. But beads were.

Impressed by Nigerian and native American beadwork and further informed by Navajo weaving, Joyce adapted her many skills to a unique crafting of two-and three- dimensional figures and wearables. In a typical sharing gesture, the residue of a day’s work left on the studio floor finds its way to Mother’s quilts — “too many beads to put in the vacuum cleaner. She spills them and I pick them up,” — an apt description of the materials and the learning process.

While Joyce was still in grade school, the pair were often separated. While the elder Scott earned a living caring for other people’s homes, she would bring home small gifts each day. In the same way that these family love tokens “always let her know I was thinking of her,” her quilts are diaries in cloth and found objects — a rock, a button, a story.

Both mother and daughter can rightfully claim “no one else does this kind of work.” Born in the Afro-American tradition of the agricultural South, informed by the plentiful materials from around the world collected in urban centers and reincorporated in new form by a pair of visionary creators working separately from the same source, Elizabeth and Joyce Scott stand at the junction of Old World and innovation to present a vital new link to family and textile traditions. After all, says Daughter Scott, “This is my family heritage. This is my diary.”

Elaine Eff
Director of Cultural Conservation Programs for the State of Maryland

Checklist
Unless otherwise noted, all works are courtesy of the artist.
All dimensions are approximate.

Elizabeth T. Scott
Lowery’s Quilt, 1985
Fabric, fibre, rocks, buttons, 6′ x 6′
Private collection

Elizabeth T. Scott
Insects & Flowers, 1988
Fabric, mixed media, 6′ x 5′

Elizabeth T. Scott
Stamps & Flags, 1987
Fabric, mixed media, 5′ x 5′

Elizabeth T. Scott
Stamps & Flags, 1987
Fabric, mixed media, 5′ x 5′
Collection of Leslie King Hammond

Elizabeth T. Scott
Both Sides Now, 1989
Fabric, mixed media, 6-1/2′ x 5′

Elizabeth T. Scott
Out of Darkness Into Light, 1984
Fabric, mixed media, 25-1/2″ x 20″

Elizabeth T. Scott
Knots & Snakes, 1982
Fabric, mixed media, 25″ x 21″ x 1-1/2″

Elizabeth T. Scott
Knots & Rocks, 1982
Fabric, mixed media, 25″ x 21″ x 1-1/2″

Elizabeth T. Scott
Heart, 1989
Mixed media, 32″ x 28″

Elizabeth T. Scott
I’rn Not Done Yet, 1989
Mixed media, 28″ x 24″

Elizabeth T. Scott
Trouble on My Mind, 1989
Mixed media, 48″ x 48″

Joyce Scott
Motherhood 2000, 1987
Molawork, fibre, fabric, 36″ x 30″ framed

Joyce J. Scott
Holocaust 4, 1987
Molawork, fibre, fabric, 15″ x 11″

Joyce J. Scott
A Thread of Her Garment Book, 1989
3 beaded pages, each 9″ x 5″

Joyce J. Scott
Blue Baby Book, 1985
3 beaded pages, each 13′ x 8″, with beaded fabric scroll

Joyce J. Scott
What You Mean Jungle Music?, 1988
Bead work and mixed media, 14″ x 12″

Joyce J. Scott
Mulatto in South Africa, 1986
Bead work and mixed media, 18″ in diameter

Joyce J. Scott
The Sneak, 1989
Bead work and mixed media, 20″ in diameter

Joy e J. Scott
You Have To Have a Heart For It To Break, 1987
Bead work, 14″ x 10″ x 2″

Joyce J. Scott
Chinese Panthers, 1983
Bead work, 16″ x 12″

Joyce J. Scott
Abstract, 1986
Handblown glass and bead work, 10″ x 8″ x 3″

Joyce J. Scott
Nanny Now, Nigger Later, 1986
Beads, leather, fibre, photos, 17″ x 6″

Joyce J. Scott
Scarecrow Knows Who Won the West, 1989
Mixed media, 17″ x 3″ x 10″

Joyce J. Scott
Tirne to Forget, 1988
Beads, fibre, bone, 91″ x 6″ x 4″

Joyce J. Scott
Eye to Eye, 1989
Beaded mixed media, 15″ x 15″ x 8″

Joyce J. Scott
Blutz, 1987
Wire, glass beads, fibre, bamboo, 21″ x 8″ x 8″

Joyce J. Scott
Three Generational Quilt, completed 1989
Fabric, mixed media, 6’x 6′

Joyce J. Scott
Selected Exhibitions

1989
The Eloquent Object, travelling exhibition

On the Edge, Fine Arts Museum of Long Island, Hempstead, NY

Extraordinarily Fashionable, The Columbia Museum of Fine Art, Columbia, SC

Stitching Memories: African American Story Quilts, Williams College of Art Museum, Williamstown, MA

Artful Objects: Recent American Crafts, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, Fort Wayne, IN

Stitched Stories/Elizabeth T. Scott and Joyce J. Scott, Washington College, Chestertown, MD

Joyce Scott, Eve France, Houston, TX

Pyramid Atlantic/Brandywine Print Show, Maryland Art Place, Baltimore, MD

Craft Today, USA, International travelling exhibition

1988
On the Body/Off the Wall: Art to Wear, Southwest Craft Center, San Antonio,Texas

Art As Verb, Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, MD

Beads, John Michael Kohler Gallery, Sheboygan, WI

6th International Trienniale of Tapestry, Lodz, Poland

1987
Tangents: Art in Fibre, travelling exhibition

1986
Art Black America, Terada Warehouse Gallery, Tokyo, Japan

Jewelry as Image, travelling exhibition

Elizabeth T. Scott
Selected Exhibitions

1989
Stitching Memories: African American Story Quilts, Williams College of Art Museum, Williamstown, MA

American Resources: Selected Works of Afro-American Artists, Cheekwood Museum, Nashville, TN

1985
The Intuitive Eye, Maryland Art Place, Baltimore, MD

1984
Exceptions, Pratt Manhattan Center Gallery, New York, NY

1982
Myth and Ritual in Afro American Art, Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY

Morris Gallery exhibitions of the work of contemporary artists with a connection to Philadelphia are chosen by a committee composed of area artists, museum personnel, and collectors, and the curatorial staff of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Other Morris Gallery exhibitions of contemporary American art are curated by the Morris Gallery Coordinator, Judith Stein. Currently serving on the Morris Gallery Exhibitions Committee are: Moe Brooker, Diane Burko, Dr. Perry Ottenberg; Academy staff Judith Stein, Linda Bantel, Susan Danly, and Frank H. Goodyear, Jr., Ex Officio.

Orlando Saverino-Loeb

See Orlando Saverino-Loeb's full Portfolio