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Joyce J. Scott: Messages

At the Brunnier Art Museum
Tuesday, January 17 – Sunday, April 30 May 14, 2023

Model Aisha Butler wearing neck piece Caught Peeping, 2021 by Joyce J. Scott. Glass beads, thread, wire, peyote stitch On loan from the Mobilia Gallery. Photo by Jeff Butler.Each remarkable work of art meticulously hand wrought by Joyce J. Scott embodies the messages she hopes to impress upon viewers. Scott crafts wearable art and sculptures to communicate the difficult and ugly issues found throughout society that are often too easy to make invisible. Scott intends for her art to resonate with the viewer through the confrontation and challenging of stereotypes. Art is an important way in which conversations about difficult topics can be initiated and the tactile and personal nature of Scott’s creations invoke a range of responses as she aims to provoke and incite action through her art. Scott wants her messages, her art, to live within viewers, to change them in some way, and cause action to fight against systemic racism, misogyny, and stereotypes.

Joyce J. Scott is a dynamic artist and performer, best known for her use of beadwork as her artistic medium of choice. Scott uses beads to create highly detailed intricate three-dimensional sculptures and neckpieces that are commentaries on a range of subjects: racism, misogyny, equality, her heritage, and much more. Art has always surrounded Scott, a native of Baltimore, Maryland, where she still lives. She grew up learning from and watching her mother, fiber artist Elizabeth Talford Scott, create uniquely stitched quilts, a skill Elizabeth learned from her mother, and she draws greatly on the artistic heritage of her family and culture. Her beadwork uses those traditional techniques to address contemporary issues in a bold and confrontational manner, creating works of art that are both beautiful and significant. Scott was named a MacArthur Fellow, also known as the MacArthur “Genius Grant”, in 2016, solidifying her status as an important contemporary American artist whose creations continue to push artistic boundaries. Each work of art on exhibit speaks to Scott’s ability with such an intricate medium and demonstrates her commitment to using beads to explore the difficult subjects in society that confront Black Americans.

University Museums is honored to include such an important and dynamic artist within the permanent collection. Joyce J. Scott: Messages allows for further exploration of her as an artist and activist, with a survey of her long and successful career in American art and craft.


Mz. Teapot, 2022 by Joyce J. Scott. Glass beads, plastic beads, thread, wire, armature, woven and peyote stitch. On loan from the Mobilia Gallery.Fairytale Neckpiece, 2020 by Joyce J. Scott. Peyote stitch, woven glass beads, thread. Purchased by University Museums with funds from the Joyce Tomlinson Brewer Fund for Art Acquisition and Barbara Woods. In the permanent collection, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.

Read More

Headshot of Joyce J. ScottClick a button below to learn more.

Joyce J. Scott's artist statement Love's Incantations

Artist Statement

Mobilia Gallery's Curators Statement

Curators Statement

Joyce J. Scott's abbreviated CV (Curriculum Vitae)

Joyce J. Scott CV

Exhibition Programs

Find full descriptions of programs on the University Museums Calendar. All programs are free and open to the public. Registration is encouraged but not required. Click the event title for more information and/or to register. Events listed below will be at the Brunnier Art Museum (1805 Center Dr., 295 Scheman Building, Ames, Iowa) unless otherwise noted. Programs are subject to change. Check the University Museums Calendar and Facebook page for the latest events information.


Joyce J. Scott Artist Lecture

Tuesday, January 31, 4:00–5:00 p.m.
Virtual on Zoom

Joyce J. Scott is a dynamic artist, educator, and performer whose beadwork sculptures tell the stories of her world. Learn how her art on view in the Brunnier Art Museum challenges stereotypes and confronts many difficult subjects through the use of glass beads.


Exploring the Different Beadwork Techniques of American Indian Peoples: Discussion and Demonstration

Sunday, February 5, 2:00–3:00 p.m.

Join Dr. Brianna Burke, Associate Professor of American Indian Studies and English, to learn more about the importance of beadwork to multiple American Indian nations. Participants will have the opportunity to try different beading techniques.


Curator's Tour

Sunday, March 12, 2:00–3:00 p.m.

Brunnier Art Museum curator Adrienne Gennett will tour the special exhibition, Joyce J. Scott: Messages, while examining the storytelling found in Scott’s beadwork and traditions of beadwork throughout the world.


Date Night at the Brunnier Art Museum

Friday, March 24, 5:00–7:00 p.m.

Try something new for date night and visit the Brunnier Art Museum to look at art with friends or a special someone.


Precious Brilliance: Yorùbá Beading and the Artistry of Joyce J. Scott 

Wednesday, April 19, 5:30–6:30 p.m.
Virtual on Zoom 

Yorùbá people liken beads to children with the saying ìlẹ̀kẹ̀ l’ọmọ – “beads are like children, our most precious possession.” Beads embellish crowns, garments, and bodies to evoke status, wealth, protection, and good fortune. Inspired by this and other African and global traditions, Joyce J. Scott transforms ancient beaded story-telling with ever-inventive newness, humor, serious playfulness, and power. Lecture presented by Dr. Henry John Drewal, Evjue-Bascom Professor Emeritus of Art History and Afro-American Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


Visit the Brunnier Art Museum

New Hours: 
Tuesday–Friday, 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.
Saturday & Sunday, 1:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m.
Closed to the public Mondays. ISU curriculum tours may be scheduled on these days with a 2-week notice.

Closed University Holidays

Address: Scheman Building (2nd Floor), 1805 Center Drive, Ames, Iowa
Admission: The cost is free; however, there is a suggested donation of $8.

This exhibition is organized by Mobilia Gallery. The exhibition is hosted by University Museums with generous support from Frankie and Cal Parrott, Barbara and Roger Bruene, H. Dieter and Renate Dellmann, Sarah Nusser and Michael King, Barbara Woods, and University Museums membership.

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