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Feb. 18 Art Minute: Joyce Scott, Nuanced Veil

Art Minute, Art of the Week, toledo museum of art
Joyce Scott (American, born 1948) Nuanced Veil. Glass seed beads, wire, thread, 2008-17. Purchased with funds from the Florence Scott Libbey Bequest in Memory of her Father, Maurice A. Scott, by exchange, 2018.36. Gallery 29

Using thousands of tiny glass seed beads, Joyce Scott spent nearly a decade completing this intricate work of dozens of figures emblematic of the complicated nature of the human experience. Originally inspired by ancient Egyptian tomb art depicting the cycles of life and death, Scott shifted to Harriet Tubman's Underground Railroad journeys, expressing the darkness of slavery and the hopeful light of freedom. While the beguiling nature of the glass beads almost obscures the challenging subject, their semi-transparent quality references, like the title a veil that can both cover and reveal. 

Nuance Veil relates to the tradition of quilting in Scott's family and the notion of stitching together parts of a life that might need reconnecting. It conveys themes often found in her work, including altered bodies of women who have been victims of violence, connection with our global ancestors, and issues of race. Scott has said, "I do have anger about [racism] and one of the great ways I deal with it is to make artwork that allows, in fact beckons, people to come to it. I want it to be so beautiful that they can't stop staring at it, and as they see it, they have to figure out what that issue means to them." 

This work is currently on view in Gallery 29 at the Toledo Museum of Art.