On May 1st, 1943, Judith Scott was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. Her twin sister, Joyce, was also born that day. One big difference between them was that Judith Scott was born with Down syndrome and her sister, Joyce, was not. Soon after they were born, Judith developed scarlett fever which took away her ability to hear. Her family did not realize that for many years. 

Early Life

Judith Scott lived at home for the first seven and a half years of her life. When it was time for her and her twin sister to go to school, the public school would not accept her into their class for children with disabilities because she was non verbal. She was nonverbal because of her deafness, but no one knew she was deaf at the time. Medical professionals advised her parents to place Judith in an institution for people with mental disabilities. In October of 1950, Judith was sent to live at the Columbus State Institution (then called the Columbus State School). 


This new living arrangement separated Judith and her twin and both children suffered negative consequences. Judith then began to have behavioral problems because of her isolation. The institution would not allow Judith any training because of her low IQ scores. The school still was not aware that she was deaf. 

Soon after these problems started, she was transferred to a different institution in Ohio. Many years went by and in 1985, her sister, Joyce, became her legal guardian after legal battles. Judith moved to California with her sister Joyce. California law stated that all mentally disabled people deserve an ongoing education. 


Her art journey began in 1987 when she attended the Creative Growth Art Center. Judith found passion in fiber art and began creating pieces. She used fibers to create sculptures, unlike any art that was seen before. Her art became her main focus and she created art every week day for the next 18 years of her life. In that time period, she created over 200 sculptures. Worldwide recognition was gained for her in 1999 when her work was showcased at an exhibition. 


Judith Scott passed away at the age of 62 in her sister’s home. Her art can be seen in popular museums such as MOMA and the American Visionary Museum


SF Gate