Ever since I discovered Judith Scott last year I have been fascinated by what she created with her hands.

Judith Scott with one of her fiber sculptures, photographed by Leon A. Borensztein

Born Columbus, OH, 1943 – 2005.

“Judith Scott was a visual artist isolated from outside influences as a result of the impact of deafness and Down’s syndrome. She was independent and self-directed. In the eighteen years Judith made her work she never repeated a form or color scheme. Crafting armatures of bamboo slats and discarded materials, Judith diligently wrapped each work with lengths of knotted cloth or yarn.” Creative Growth.

Image from: Ricco/Maresca Gallery

Judith was an accidental artist. She spent 35 years institutionalized in her home state of Ohio with little or no creative outlet. It was only in the 1980’s when her twin sister Joyce regained custody of Judith and moved her to the San Francisco Bay Area that her creative life began to blossom. Judith was introduced to fiber art in 1987 by artist Sylvia Seventy at Creative Growth and produced a remarkable, breathtaking body of mixed media sculptures.


Image from: Pmitsukeru.wordpress.com

“Roger Cardinal and John MacGregor, internationally known scholars and experts in the field, have both designated Judith an “Outsider artist” as her sculptures reflect little cultural input and are highly individualistic, reflecting Judith’s own unique personal vision. Judith’s work is in the collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Collection l’Art Brut, Switzerland, The American Folk Art Museum, New York, and was most recently part of a group exhibition at Gladstone Gallery, New York in 2006.” Creative Growth

Image from: Creative Growth

Image from: www.racheluffnergallery.com

photograph by © Sylvain Deleu

photograph by © Sylvain Deleu
photograph by © Sylvain Deleu

“Down syndrome is named after John Langdon Down, the British physician who described the syndrome in 1866. Down syndrome can be identified in a baby at birth, or even before birth by prenatal screening. Pregnancies with this diagnosis are often terminated.

The CDC estimates that about one of every 691 babies born in the United States each year is born with Down syndrome. Down syndrome occurs in all human populations, and analogous conditions have been found in other species such as chimpanzees.

Many children with Down syndrome graduate from high school and are able to do paid work, and some participate in post-secondary education as well. Education and proper care has been shown to improve quality of life significantly.” – Wikipedia

My relationship with Down syndrome started back when I was living in Cuba. My ex-husband, who was a Psychologist,  used to be part of a research that involved studying the hidden potential of people with Down syndrome. I had the special opportunity to watch a few videos of unique cases. I vividly remember two of them. One was a charming  young man who collected unusual stories from newspapers. He knew so much and was so willing to share his knowledge. The second case was a young woman who was very advanced  in her social skills. She had a good job at a local library. Her interview was inspiring, revealing and sometimes heart breaking. She was articulate and deep in her observations about “regular” people. The main element learned from the research was that those individuals with Down syndrome who had supporting parents that helped them develop their personal potentials, ended up integrating themselves into society and enjoying happy lives.

After I moved to the USA I kept being interested in Down syndrome, specially after Diego started pre-school in a special class. One of his classmates had Down syndrome, she was in love with Diego from the beginning.  She was the most affectionate girl ever, with her cute little glasses. At that time when nobody wanted to play with Diego it felt so good to see her  hugging and kissing him.  It made my heart happy. When I discovered Judith Scott I immediately thought about Diego’s girlfriend from pre-school. Maybe one day she will be a famous artist as well. I wouldn’t be surprised because she had very supporting parents.

Watch Judith at work: HERE

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