Beads Back To Back to Africa

by Joyce J. Scott


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I’m going to South Africa to share my form of beadwork, the Peyote Stitch and it's variations hosted by Monkeybiz, a South African company whose mission it is to help men and women supplement or completely support themselves and families as bead artists. They are enormously inventive in style and medium with a technique that's very traditional.

My mom, Elizabeth T. Scott, a nationally celebrated quilter was my first bead teacher. Both she and my dad, Charlie Scott were sharecroppers in the Carolinas. In many ways, I have a real connection to the bead artists of SA, because although my parents fostered an academic education for me, they had only the basics and from that they built lives of joy and accomplishment. My mom was the queen of options, passing that on to me. It has given me a real knack for redevising. This is where I come in. I have extended or invented ways to realistically render forms in beadwork. I want to share this, not as an art colonist, but as a "Bead Sista". There are many ways to feel the heat, that Boom-Shaka-Lacka of making it real. For me, beading is at the top. It can be serpentine and slinky or tough, even architectural. Language wise, I’m multi-lingual when my fingers hit the needle, bead, thread combo…I can communicate with anyone through its alchemy. I’m the one for the job. Beadwork has not only been a heart-centered medium of creation, but a vocation for me. As a teacher, coach, and mentor, my life has for many years been to elevate beadwork and its place in all forms of art. Teaching all over America begs the question, "Why stay in USA?" I have lectured, performed, and exhibited internationally, but never taught in Africa.

So I wrote to Monkeybiz and they replied, absolutely yes…of course with no monetary assistance. We're now working on a strategy for my visit. If that wasn't wonderful enough, I accepted a request to be a member of an advisory group for an exhibit at the Anacostia Community Museum in Washington DC.

The show is titled "Ubuhle Women: Beadwork and the Art of Independence," another South African collective. I hope to work with them when we visit Africa.

That's right, I’m going! Joyce J. Scott traipsing through South Africa with only a walking stick, faith in my skills and GOD's sense of humor. That's where you come in. I’m almost there but need to raise more money to take two assistants and myself for about two to four weeks, remember the paying forward part? Monkeybiz is a non-profit. While delighted, they can only offer help with mounting the class, supplies, and some transportation within their domain. No offers were extended for honoraria or documentation. I am honored to say, I have been awarded a Franz and Virginia Bader Fund Award, which means I've raised $16,000 so far, but it's not enough to fund the entire excursion.

I will need to raise a minimum of $5,000 to help with the following:

I propose to teach classes with two assistants, Teresa Sullivan and Aissatou Bey-Grecia. Travel to their areas to see how the artists generally work. Since both collectives are in different regions, we'll travel long distances, both by car and train. Give talks and lectures, visit museums and galleries in various regions of South Africa.

Friends, the original idea started with my going on my own, sharing, which would help me become a better person through my gift as a beader-storyteller. Well, bigger thinkers thought it might be worth expanding my dreams so others could benefit. I've been blessed with many skills, most non-lethal. If I have a legacy beyond creating havoc, it is as an advocate, innovator and teacher of beadwork. Most of the time no humans or animals are harmed. Please consider donating. I pledge to do my darnedest to spread the good word about the healing qualities of creativity through bead work while not causing an international incident...mostly.

Thank you so much for your support!

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    • August 03, 2014 Marge Levy Community Member

      I would like to donate a token. How now?