Her deafness undiagnosed, Judith was tested only verbally for entrance to the sole classroom in Cincinnati for children with disabilities, and was consequently considered uneducable. Thus all possibilities for education were lost and her fate was sealed. When she was 7 years old, her parents, acting on medical and pastoral advice, made the heart-rending decision to send her away, her lack of hearing being mistaken for severe retardation. She would spend the following 35-years separated from her family as a ward of the State of Ohio in Dickensian institutions for the disabled and discarded.
As a child, Joyce was profoundly affected by the loss of her sister, who she experienced as the “other half” of herself. Something important was constantly missing from her life, and her childhood became a search for a closeness that was irrevocably lost. The death of her father, and breakdown of her mother forced Joyce to look on her own for her missing twin. As a young adult, she sought to heal this profound inner wound by caring for other forgotten children who were discarded by society, unconsciously searching for Judith and her missing wholeness.
Finally, in 1986, both twin’s lives dramatically shifted when Joyce, following an epiphanal moment of insight, took it upon herself to become Judith’s legal guardian. After long and difficult negotiations, and over the objections of their mother, Judith went to live with Joyce and her family in California, beginning a process of deep healing for both twins.
In time, Judith moved to a nearby board-and-care home where she was enrolled in the Creative Growth Art Center in Oakland, the first organization in the world to provide studio space for artists with disabilities. Here, for almost two years, Judith showed no evidence of artistic interest or ability. Then, after observing a class being given by a visiting fiber artist, Judith spontaneously started creating the unique sculptures, for which she has since become famous.
Judith’s innate talent was quickly recognized by Creative Growth’s staff, and she was given freedom to scour the studio for whatever materials she wanted. Nothing was rejected and objects of every size and shape — both private and public — were gathered up. Day by day, week by week, and sometimes for months on end, these prizes were gradually wrapped, woven and entwined in yarns and threads of carefully selected hues, until Judith, and Judith alone, decided that the piece was complete.
"This book will open many hearts and minds."
— Stephen and Ondrea Levine
“One of the most important artists
of the Twentieth Century, not only in
art brut, but also in the context
of contemporary art.”
— Dr Johann Feilacher
Director, Museum Gugging
“This is the best story in the world.”
— James Brett, Director
Museum of Everything
“Making something out of nothing,
or precisely, luring something from
the unconscious and giving it material
form is the closest thing to real magic
there is in this world.”
— Michael Bonesteel
“One of the most important bodies
of work—‘Insider’ or ‘Outsider’—
produced anywhere, and under any
circumstances, in the past twenty years.”
— Matthew Higgs
Director, White Columns
"...perhaps the finest essay, the most
exquisitely written in our museum's
sixteen year history, was that of writer,
Joyce Scott, twin sister to the world
famous outsider artist who transcended
limitations of deafness and
Downs Syndrome, Judith Scott.”
— Rebecca Alban Hoffberger
Director, American Visionary Museum