Judith Scott
American fiber artist



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Judith Scott
American fiber artist
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Date of Birth

May 01, 1943

Date of Death

March 15, 2005

Arty Fact

More about Judith Scott

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Judith Scott is an artist with a life story fit for the movies.

In fact, French filmmaker Philippe Lespinasse made a documentary about her extraordinary life and fascinating artwork. Scott was born on May Day in 1943, minutes apart from her twin sister, Joyce. The twins were inseparable: playing, exploring, even sleeping in the same bed for the first handful of years. With such a strong bond, it makes sense that the separation that occurred between Judith and Joyce would be traumatic for both parties.

At age 7, Judith was institutionalized. She was diagnosed with Down syndrome and deemed “ineducable” due to her inability to speak. It was only in adulthood when people would realize that Judith did not learn to speak because she was deaf, due to a bout of Scarlet Fever in infancy.

This all seems like a sad story that's only going to get sadder, right? Wrong! In 1985, Joyce, in a moment she called an epiphany, fought to become her sister’s legal guardian. The next year, she moved Judith to California, where the sisters would remain together for the duration of Judith’s life.

Once in California, Joyce enrolled Judith in art classes at Creative Growth Art Center in Oakland, one of the first organizations in the world to provide studio space for artists with disabilities. For 2 years, Judith showed no interest in artmaking...until she was introduced to fiber art and something clicked. She worked with colorful yarn, thread, lace, even paper towels, and wrapped everything she could get her hands on: sticks, magazines, bicycle wheels, and even a shopping cart! She was extraordinarily focused, but once an object was finished ,Judith would brush her hands together and push the piece away, never to revise it again. She mummified and hid objects, and has since been compared to a spider, a mother swaddling a child, or someone trying to reclaim something missing by tying objects together so as not to let them separate - a theory directly tied to her early childhood experience of being forcibly separated from her twin, and the rest of her family. 

Though she never spoke with words, Scott’s color choices, textures, and the clear emotional ties (haha, puns) that she has to her art communicate in their own language. These objects tell a story of overcoming: a tale of the human spirit’s ability to overcome. Today, Scott’s work is in the collection of such major international institutions as the Brooklyn Museum, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the American Folk Art Museum, and the Museum of Everything. Though she may still be referred to as an “Outsider Artist,” a somewhat debated term for self-taught artists with no connection to the established art world, she sure seems to have the resume of a pro.




  1. Clother, Chris. “Judith Scott: Communicating Through Process.” Cordella Magazine, accessed 28 October 2019 from
  2. “Creative Growth Art Center.” Art21, accessed 28 October 2019, from
  3. Dickens, Lauren Schell. “Judith Scott.” National Gallery of Art, accessed 28 October 2019, from
  4. Gray, Anne-Marie. “Wrapping and Unwrapping.” Anne-Marie Gray Art (blog), 21 May 2013, accessed 29 October 2019, from
  5. Hirsch, Faye. “Judith Scott.” Art in America, 3 February 2015, accessed 28 October 2019, from
  6. Iglesias, Raquel. “Finding Meaning Through Process: The Artistic Practice of Judith Scott.” SAIC blog, accessed 28 October 2019, from
  7. Joe. “Textile artist Judith Scott: Uncovering innate talent.”, accessed 28 October 2019, from
  8. “Judith Ann Scott.” American Visionary Art Museum, accessed 28 October 2019, from
  9. “Judith Scott.” Art21, accessed 28 October 2019, from
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  11. Marchini, Gloria. “Judith Scott.”, 4 May 2014, accessed 28 October 2019, from
  12. Meier, Allison. “Finding a Voice in Fiber, Judith Scott Was an Artist, Not an Outsider.” Hyperallergic, 8 January 2015, accessed 28 October 2019, from
  13. Peiry, Lucienne. “Judith Scott.” Notes de Art Brut, 29 May 2013, accessed 28 October 2019, from
  14. “Untitled - Judith Scott.” Brooklyn Museum, accessed October 28, 2019, from

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Judith Scott (artist)

Judith Scott (May 1, 1943 – March 15, 2005) was an internationally renowned American fiber sculptor. Judith was born into a middle-class family in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1943 along with her fraternal twin sister Joyce. Unlike Joyce, Judith was born with Down Syndrome. During her infancy, Judith suffered from Scarlet Fever, which caused her to lose her hearing, a fact that remained unknown until much later on in her life.

At the age of seven, she was sent to an Ohio state institution where she remained until her sister became her guardian 35 years later. In 1987 Judith was enrolled at the Creative Growth Art Center in Oakland, California which supports people with developmental disabilities. There, Judith discovered her passion and talent for abstract fiber art. An account of Scott's life, Entwined – Sisters and secrets in the life of artist Judith Scott has been written by her twin sister.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Judith Scott (artist).