Read & Make/ Unbound: The Life + Art of Judith Scott

This book! If you are looking for a story about self-expression, creativity, the deep river of sisterhood, AND the experience of a person living with a disability, Unbound ticks all the boxes and then some. Joyce Scott and her twin Judith, who is born with Down’s Syndrome and also deaf, are keenly, wordlessly connected as children. Their effortless bond, subsequent devastating separation and much later reunion form the backbone of the story, all written in beautiful, heartfelt vignettes. Joyce’s determination to nourish Judith’s mind and spirit lead them to a studio called the Creative Growth Art Center, and eventually to a “new language” for Judith–an art form that’s intricate, entwined, intriguing, and all her own.

Caldecott Honor winner Melissa Sweet is the perfect illustrator for this picture book. Sweet often uses found objects in her playful, color-filled art, a nice correlation with Judith’s sculptures. Sweet makes sure to note that she is *interpreting* Judith’s art in her illustration. There’s only one photo of Judith’s sculpture in the end notes so make sure to look up more examples of her amazing work!

PROJECT: Wrap and weave string around twigs, sticks or other found objects, just like Judith!

MATERIALS: Use what you have or can find, such as:

  • twigs
  • wooden spools or popsicle sticks
  • cardboard tubes or flat cardboard shapes
  • embroidery floss
  • fabric scraps
  • yarn
  • twine or string

I gathered some sticks outside and added a wooden spool and clothespin. I used embroidery floss, fabric pieces, yarn, and cotton loops from a potholder loom kit. I tucked in loose ends and occasionally knotted some ends. I didn’t try to simulate Judith’s sculptures, I just did my own thing. The project involved more decision-making than I anticipated–it was very engrossing to wrap new colors and connect different objects into the shape/form I wanted. I took an early photo but I kept going since–I wasn’t quite done! Even though I didn’t try to recreate Judith’s art, it gave me insight and respect for her art. If you try it, send me a pic!

MORE TO EXPLORE:

Penguin Random House information about Unbound

Melissa Sweet’s website description of Unbound

“Textile artist Judith Scott: Uncovering innate talent,” textileartist.org

4 thoughts on “Read & Make/ Unbound: The Life + Art of Judith Scott

  1. I will definitely try making something with the materials in the list. Your twig art looks like a person with its arms up in the air. Very cute!

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