Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) alumna Joyce J. Scott ’70 (Art Education B.F.A.) has been named a 2016 Fellow of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The fellowships, popularly known as “genius” grants, are awarded annually and carry a five-year, $625,000 prize, which recipients are free to use as they see fit. Twenty-three Fellows were announced Thursday by the Chicago-based foundation.
A native of Baltimore, Scott is best known for her use of small, delicate beads to craft strong messages of societal issues embedded in gender, race and class. Jewelry maker, sculptor, quilter, installation and performance artist, lecturer and educator, Scott’s handmade works—which range from over-sized neckpieces, to figurative sculptures, to installations — upend conceptions of beadwork and jewelry as adornment. Her exquisitely crafted objects powerfully address racism, sexism and the violence they engender.
“Joyce Scott has dedicated her life and art to confronting stereotypes and social and racial injustices while innovating craft along the way,” said MICA President Samuel Hoi. “MICA is so proud to have been part of Joyce’s career and journey. Our students are fortunate that she still incorporates teaching as part of her practice. Her unique voice and fierce dedication to Baltimore truly inspires our rising creatives.”
More than 900 people have received the awards, known as “genius grants,” since 1981. Fellows, brought to the foundation's attention by an anonymous pool of nominators, do not apply for the money and are not informed they've been chosen until shortly before the awards are announced. The unusual level of independence afforded to Fellows underscores the spirit of freedom intrinsic to creative endeavors. The work of MacArthur Fellows knows neither boundaries nor the constraints of age, place and endeavor.
"While our communities, our nation, and our world face both historic and emerging challenges, these 23 extraordinary individuals give us ample reason for hope," MacArthur President Julia Stasch said in a statement. "They are breaking new ground in areas of public concern, in the arts, and in the sciences, often in unexpected ways. Their creativity, dedication, and impact inspire us all."
In addition to her B.F.A. from MICA, Scott received an M.F.A. from the Instituto Allende in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Educated in Baltimore City public schools, Scott’s earliest art lessons were received at home from her mother, Elizabeth T. Scott, who was an internationally recognized fiber artist.
Scott’s work has appeared in solo and group exhibitions at the American Craft Museum; The Corcoran Gallery of Art; The Renwick Gallery; The Orlando Art Museum; the Museum of Art and Design; the Fuller Craft Museum; the Smithsonian American Art Museum; the Studio Museum, Harlem; the Taft Museum, Cincinnati; and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Her work is held in the public collections of numerous national and international museums. She has been awarded honors from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation, the Maryland State Arts Council and Anonymous was a Woman.
In 2000, a 30-year retrospective of her work, “Joyce J. Scott: Kickin’ It with the Old Masters” was presented at the BMA in collaboration with MICA’s Exhibition Development Seminar.
This latest honor follows a May announcement that she topped the list of the 2016 Baltimore-based Baker Artist Awards, winning the $50,000 Mary Sawyers Imboden Prize.
Scott joins another alumna, Elizabeth Turk ’94 (Rinehart School of Sculpture M.F.A.) as a MacArthur Fellow. Turk was recognized by the foundation for her elegant marble sculptures in 2010.