Elizabeth Talford Scott

Elizabeth Talford Scott’s title for this artwork cites the traditional craft techniques used in its creation and evokes its narrative theme. As is typical of Scott’s quilts and wall works, the piece is composed of everyday materials–here simply cotton and thread–and features intense colors. Scott often utilized techniques based on African craft traditions, such as stripping, piecing, and appliqué, and included symbols of (or actual elements from) the natural world–from rocks and buttons to stars and insects–as both personal spiritual references and as a means to elicit emotions in the viewer. Through such abstraction, she drew upon memory to chronicle her own family’s life experiences and, by extension, that of the broader African-American community, offering joy, respite, and celebration while engaging the past.

During her lifetime Scott exhibited in New York at the Studio Museum of Harlem, the Museum of American Folk Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In 1998, the Maryland Institute College of Art mounted a retrospective exhibition titled Eyewinkers, Tumbleturds, and Candlebugs: The Art of Elizabeth Talford Scott, which featured Knots and Snakes.

Elizabeth Talford Scott, Knots and Snakes, 1982 (detail). Stitched quilt and fiber media, 25 x 21 in. Weatherspoon Art Museum. Gift of Carol Cole Levin in memory of Betty Beatrice Person, 2019.30. © Joyce J. Scott and Goya Contemporary Gallery