When I look at the art of Judith Scott, I see powerful messages from a being refusing to be held captive by a barely functional mind and body.
She is a fifty-five year old mentally handicapped woman with Down’s Syndrome, who cannot hear or speak. For the past ten years, she has been creating abstract fiber structures, often larger than she is, each involving months of dedicated work. The detail on these pieces shows extraordinary patience and care.
There is no question that her work is intentional. It is very definitely a communication since it creates an effect on the viewer. I feel what we are seeing is her effort as a spiritual being to communicate through a badly damaged mind and body. One out of three is not the best odds for success, but her work shows what can be done by a determined being.
These amazing sculptures are on display at the Ricco|Maresca Gallery in New York.
There is an alternative view, captured in a book written by a psychiatrist, John M. MacGregor. He states, “Judith possesses no concept of art, no understanding of its meaning or function” and “Whatever she is doing she is definitely not concerned with the making of art.” He seems to feel that her sculptures are some sort of accidental organic process.
It is possible that his viewpoint is limited by his training. Anyone who has had out-of-body experiences already knows far more about the human spirit than the average psychiatrist. (As I recall, they still think the human spirit is part of the brain.) I do plan to buy his book, however, as it will be interesting to contrast his observations with his conclusions.
Take a look at her art and decide for yourself.