Kickin’ It with Joyce J. Scott

April 7 – May 27, 2007

Dorothy Jenkins and Emily S. Macey Galleries

For over three decades, Joyce J. Scott has been creating objects of exceptional skill and beauty while offering her own distinctive commentary on social issues such as stereotyping, violence, and the prejudice that we all confront at some point in our lives. Now, a national retrospective of her 30-year career, Kickin’ It with Joyce J. Scott, opening April 7, 2007 at Polk Museum of Art, pays tribute to her remarkable career by presenting 60 of her works created since 1970. This comprehensive exhibition includes sculpture, jewelry, prints, and textiles as well as videos and photographs of Scott’s performance and installation work.

The foundation of Scott’s art is craft. Though she often mixes materials—ceramic, glass, cloth, and metal—beads are prevalent in her work: a glittering, beaded surface is a signature element of her oeuvre. If her subject matter is sometimes harsh, it is leavened by her wry humor and masterly technique. And her influences, from African and Native American experiences to comic books, television, and other venues of popular American culture, are as wide ranging as her media.

Joyce J. Scott was born in Baltimore and still lives in the neighborhood where she was raised. Scott received a B.F.A. degree from the Maryland Institute College of Art and a M.F.A. in crafts from Institute Allende in Mexico, with further study at Rochester Institute of Technology in New York and Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Maine.

Scott’s earliest art lessons were received at home from her mother, the renowned fiber artist, Elizabeth Talford Scott. She began to be influenced from an early age by three generations of basketmakers, quilters, storytellers, and wood, metal and clay workers. At the center of this generative heritage was the influence of Africa, where the creation of utilitarian objects of beauty is everyday practice. In keeping with traditional African practices, Scott often uses beads as medium.

Scott is renowned for her striking creations and biting social commentary on issues such as racism, violence, sexism and stereotypes. She writes, “I believe in messing with stereotypes, prodding the viewer to reassess.” According to Scott, “It’s important to me to use art in a manner that incites people to look and then carry something home – even if it’s subliminal – that might make a change in them…I am a visual and performance artist because it’s my best voice as a human. It allows interaction, sometimes masked, even scabrous, in ways polite society finds uncomfortable,” writes Scott. “My work is not meant to be openly offensive. I skirt the borders between comedy, pathos, delight, and horror. I invite the viewer to laugh at our collective selves. Humans are hilariously precocious.”

Joyce Scott exhibits, performs, and lectures nationally and internationally and is the recipient of prestigious honors from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation, Anonymous Was a Woman and the American Craft Council.

Kickin’ It with Joyce J. Scott is made possible by a generous grant from Altria Group, Inc. The exhibition is curated by George Ciscle, Curator-in-Residence, Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, and organized and toured by ExhibitsUSA. ExhibitsUSA is a national division of Mid-America Arts Alliance, a private, nonprofit organization founded in 1972.

Scott will attend the opening reception of the exhibition on Friday, April 13 and will introduce her work with a lecture at 6:00pm. On Saturday, April 14,1-4:30pm, Scott will present a performance and two other prominent scholars will join us for Dialogues with Artists.


Members’ Celebration Opening Reception
Friday, April 13, 2007 | 6:00 – 8:00pm
Lecture by Joyce J. Scott at 6:00pm
FREE for Members, $5 Guests

Join us on April 13 for the Members’ Celebration Opening Reception for Kickin’ It With Joyce J. Scott. The artist will attend and will give a lecture about her work at 6:00pm. The reception will follow. Cash Bar.

Dialogues With Artists: Joyce J. Scott
Saturday, April 14, 2007 | 1:00 – 4:30pm
$20 Members, $25 Non-Members, $10 Students with I.D.

Internationally acclaimed artist Joyce Scott will give a live performance in conjunction with the exhibition Kickin’ It with Joyce J. Scott on Saturday, April 14th. The performance is open to the public. Scott is well known for her performances and uses her art to speak out about racism, sexism, and other prejudices.

In addition to Scott’s performance there will be lectures by Dr. Leslie King-Hammond and author Mel Watkins. Dr. King-Hammond is dean of graduate studies at the Maryland Institute, College of Art and is considered one of the foremost authorities of African American aesthetics, women studies, and contemporary twentieth-century art history. Mel Watkins is the author of On the Real Side, A History of African-American Comedy from Slavery to Chris Rock and Dancing with Strangers, a recollection of growing up in Midwestern American in the 1950s and 1960s. He will talk about Joyce Scott’s role as a performer and humorist within the context of African American humor.

Dialogues with Artists (Formally Symposium) is a new program bringing multicultural artists to Polk County to participate in this year’s exhibitions and outreach programs. Dialogues attempts to enrich the community by exposing audiences to art through exhibitions, personal conversations with selected artists from the shows, and through workshops directed to both at-risk youth organizations and high school teachers. The dialogues program illustrates how art can be an effective personal storytelling tool for educating, a method for documenting, and finally, a way to engage one’s art with community.

The Dialogues with Artists program is made possible by a Challenge America grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.