William Scott, Untitled (WS 202), 2014. Creative Growth Art Center, Oakland
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Between graphics, paintings and sculptures: the work of William Scott

From social issues to the creation of a utopian universe: a monographic volume traces the works of William Scott, the self-made artist

Between art and the documentary narrative of the African American community

Inspired by the society that surrounds him, particularly the marginalized environments and people, William Scott reinterprets this world through art. The idea of creating a parallel, utopian universe that transforms his birthplace, San Francisco, into Praise Frisco characterizes the narrative of his artwork.

At its basis is the concept of community around which personalities based on characters from African-American culture are developed. From celebrities to people Scott met living in his neighborhood, they are all part of the optimistic future envisioned by the artist.

Landmarks of the city and its neighborhood provide the backdrop for his work and the reimagined community. Also characteristic of his drawings are the layers that complement Scott’s idea with phrases such as ‘Another life’ and ‘Reinventing the past’. Visual narratives and textual ones contribute to highlighting his concept of the world through fantastic storytelling. For this reason, his productions also address recurring themes such as questions about identity, class, and race. 

The hybridization in William Scott work 

Through his works, Scott lets his connection to the city of San Francisco and Oakland shine through by making them the protagonists of his drawings. His art is a mix of paintings and sketches. He aims to create calmness by conceiving projects for the benefit of residents and citizens. To make these serene places, the artist uses design mash-ups between distant and diverse territories, such as San Francisco and the Bahamas, Hollywood, and Disneyland. Scott’s thirty years of work, focusing on creating a better world, are collected in his monograph. This represents one of the largest selections among paintings, drawings, masks, and architectural models devised by the artist. The collection highlights his creative and transformative approach to the reality around him, tracing the evolution of his art.

Rebuilding and ‘Inner Limits’

The artist’s redesign work is based mainly on buildings that have played a central role in his life, such as the Fox Plaza apartment tower and San Francisco General Hospital. New structures or government agencies are added to these, always respecting his creative philosophy.

Examples are the Skyline Friendly Organization and the Center for Opportunity, innovative organizations aiming to improve the quality of life. The monograph collection says: «The SFO is a spectacular spaceship that tours the world. Its mission is to promote peace on Earth and good, wholesome behavior. Within the SFO are a group called the Wholesome Close Encounter who leave the spaceship to teach the people of the world humorous, good behavior».

Also part of this project is the reimagining of iconic characters. Part of the Captain Planet Peace Makers on the SFO are Diana Ross from the 1970s, Sheila Queenzilla, and Halle Berry’s Cleopatrazilla. As in many of Scott’s other works, it reads ‘Inner Limits,’ which is the name of the people in the spaceship, he explains.

Charged with restoring peace, these bring back the unjustly dead and convert other people to proper conduct. In this way, it is possible to create, according to the artist, a healthy and peaceful world populated by happy people and deprived of disease and disability.

William Scott, internal view. Courtesy Studio Voltaire. Photography Graham Pearson
William Scott, internal view. Courtesy Studio Voltaire. Photography Graham Pearson

The evolution of the artistic practice at Creative Growth

William Scott’s contact with art is affected by the health conditions that shaped the course of his life. Indeed, since childhood, he has had schizophrenia and is on the autistic spectrum. His ability to communicate through speech is limited, which is why he relies on art.

The drawing accompanying the painter throughout his life allows him to share his complex and avant-garde thoughts. Creative Growth Art Center is an association founded in 1972 that provides assistance and development opportunities to people with physical and mental disabilities. Since 1992, Scott has settled here, and thanks to the organization, his art has evolved and grown to make him one of San Francisco’s most prominent artists.

Framed in the pop culture movement, the artist sees his work exhibited and collected at MoMA in New York, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Studio Museum in Harlem. Through the Creative Growth Art Center, Scott grew the ability to best express himself through his pieces that intersect images and text.

The concrete nature of his out-of-this-world narrative

Scott has been attempting to propose practical solutions to some real-world issues through his work of reimagining and involvement with the surrounding society.

In addition to the themes addressed, his art explores intersections of community, cultural memory, faith, and science fiction, as stated in the release. With his pieces, the artist redefines himself as the architect of the creation of new possibilities for development concerning the current situation.

He defines many artworks as reconstruction, from the design of his idea for rebuilding the Martin Luther King Towers, a public-housing project, to the conception of an Opportunity Center. Peace is another of the critical elements of Scott’s art, which envisions a world free of violence and war.  

William Scott

Scott was born in 1964 in San Francisco, California. Here he grew up and trained himself as an artist, establishing his career in the areas of graphic design, drawing and sculpture.

Further evolution in his practice is recorded through his work at Creative Growth. This monograph about his pieces is published by Studio Voltaire in collaboration with Mälmo Konsthall.

Chiara Narciso

The writer does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article.

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