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Review of Joyce J. Scott: On Kilter at Goya Contemporary by Cara Ober

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“It’s funny because it’s true” seems ironically, painfully apt for On Kilter, new works by Baltimore’s Joyce J. Scott at Goya Contemporary. Sharp as a razor and powerful as hell, Scott’s newest exhibition plucks you out of your comfort zone and drops you naked, on the front lines, without a weapon.

Composed of repurposed figurines, classically blown Murano glass, and skillfull beadwork, Scott’s work has long since crossed the threshold from craft to fine art with a capital F, and takes no prisoners. It’s no surprise she is taking the international art world by storm; with Prospect 2 New Orleans and the Museum of Art and Design, NY recent exhibitions, and Glasstress at the Venice Biennale on the near horizon.

Scott’s sculptures are the ultimate Venus Fly Trap: they draw you in with such a gorgeous, light hand, suddenly you’re a witness, or even complicit, in the most disgusting racial hatred, sexual violence, and abuse of power with an open, unflinching eye. Although her subject matter is raw enough to make the most coarse standup comic blush, her intricate beadwork, sparkley baubles, and beautiful, kitchy glitz are beyond compelling. And if that doesn’t attract you, her dark sense of humor (not sarcasm, not irony) manifests as a well crafted belly laugh. It hurts, but you have to laugh. Once pierced and skewered, what is left to do? You can take it personally, get defensive, argue and deny her vision. More satisfying, though, is to give yourself over to the experience and let the violence and beauty wash over you.

Whether you enjoy these works is irrelevant. The power of this master artist is unparalleled in the Baltimore region. It doesn’t matter if you’re MFA educated or watch Fox News 24-7, Scott’s works will resonate on a visceral, personal level. On Kilter is more compelling than cable television, a must-see this season.

– Cara Ober

Joyce J. Scott: On Kilter is up through November 10 at Goya Contemporary. The exhibit was curated by Amy Eva Raehse. www.goyacontemporary.com.

Ancestry Doll 2
Ancestry Doll 3
Ancestry/Progeny, 2008
Pretty Girl Veiled
Ancestry Doll 1, foreground
Obama, Golden Boy (L) Obama, Haunt (R), and Cobalt Rain
Cobalt Rain (detail) and below
From the Still Funny Series: Flutist
From the Still Funny Series, Lover 1
From the Still Funny Series: Asian/Negro
From the Still Funny Series: Lover 2
From the Still Funny Series: Mammy/Penis
Lover 2
Decapitated Tanzanian Albino Boy Head, 2009-2011
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