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Arts of North America

Art created in North America includes objects made by native cultures of the present-day United States and Canada; paintings and decorative arts produced during colonial times; 18th- and 19th-century masterpieces; and the work of contemporary artists and photographers.

© Joyce J. Scott
American, 1948 -
"The Sneak" Necklace
Beads and thread

2 x 11 x 13 inches

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Gift of the Caroline Wiess Law Foundation

Arts of North America

Joyce Scott threads diverse influences such as Native American beadwork, African art, and Mexican weavings into her provocative compositions. By combining these elements with her personal experiences as an African American, Scott creates art full of unrelentingly political and social commentary. In The Sneak, for example, an act of violence has taken place.

Three small figures, gossiping behind the back of the central character, reach out to separate a couple. The woman lies on the ground, bleeding; the man has her blood on his hands and an angry sneer on his face. Is he a husband who heard people talk about his wife sneaking around? Or have the three sneaks acted as puppet masters in inciting the violence?

Throughout her career, Scott has engaged in the realms of jewelry, sculpture, performance art, and installation. She began using beads in her jewelry in the mid-1970s, after working with Native American and African artists at the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Maine. Amazingly, her pieces have no internal armature or backing. Rather, she constructs fluid, sculptural figures using a traditional Native American peyote stitch to sew thousands of colored beads into compelling compositions.