Art is subjective. What I consider art you might think is trash. And what you consider art I might say, “There is a reason art rhymes with a bodily function.” Yet, I think we both can agree that the life of Judith Scott was pretty darn amazing even if we disagree about her work being art.
I first became aware of Unbound: The Life and Art of Judith Scott written by her twin, Joyce, was when I was looking at an online catalog/ordering site the store I work at uses. The excerpt was cute and whetted the appetite. I knew I wanted to read the full picture book but forgot about it until I was on the children’s floor about a week later and saw it had been featured as their Book of the Day from the day before.
Brie Spangler, along with Joyce Scott, show how two sisters were bound together. What Joyce did, Judith followed. Until they went to school. Here, in the early 1950s girls like Judith did not go to school, and in fact, would be sent to an institution for most of her life. It was not until both were adults and Joyce had fought for custody, did she come to live with her family again. By now they learned that Judith was born mostly deaf and mute, as well as having Down Syndrome and a heart condition. They would also learn that she had a talent for fiber art. In the almost twenty-years left to her, Judith Scott created some wild expressions of art.
Personally, I am not a fan of the results, yet I do appreciate what she created. I prefer the illustrations of Melissa Sweet to Ms. Scott’s actual work, but do want to know if there is a full-length biography of Judith Scott. And I would like to see her work in person as the picture book format, while lovely, does not seem to do Scott justice. There seems to be more to the artwork and their life than fifty odd pages can tell. I think the reason I prefer the illustrations of Sweet is that they represent not just the artwork, but everything happening to our characters. The illustrations represent the emotions and feelings of the people, places and the art itself.
It would be great for a classroom or art class setting or if you are doing a unit of women or people who are non-neurotypical and/or have down syndrome. And while aimed at older kids, most ages can appreciate it. It is a must have “just because” but of course, a must have for those who are interested in art, biography, or history.