Sunday, September 02, 2007

Pass it on to others

Multimedia artist John Scott passed away at the age of 67 from pulmonary fibrosis .

A MacArthur fellow and a professor at Xavier University, his work was exhibited widely and he created large-scale public sculptures in Boston, Philadelphia, Kansas City, Atlanta, New Orleans and other cities.

Mr. Scott drove to Houston at 3:30 a.m. the day Katrina hit. His eight public-art works that dot the city, including a large, kinetic steel piece on the river survived the storm. "It has survived five or six hurricanes already," Mr. Scott said. "And it still looks the way it did when I made it." However, in a brazen act of post Katrina thievery we've all come to know, in December of 2006 thieves broke into an art studio in New Orleans and -- using a bolt cutter, hacksaw and hammer -- dismantled several of Mr. Scott's bronze sculptures, hauling the metal away.

The studio that Scott shared with artist Ron Bechet for 12 years was blasted by Katrina’s winds. Five feet of water flooded the ground floor studio, damaging innumerable works of art and ruining much of the heavy machinery used to make it.

A New Orleans native, Scott was born on a farm in Gentilly; his father was chauffeur to the owners, who used the farm to supply meat and produce for their restaurant, Kolb’s . When Scott was 7, his family moved to the Lower 9th Ward. His love of art may have started when his mother taught him to embroider. He graduated from Booker T. Washington High School in 1958 and began formal art studies.

Mr Scott was an unselfish artist and teacher. As a teacher, he only wanted for students to follow his tradition, of excellence.”

“He had a very famous admonition that all of us remember,” Xavier President Norman Francis said. “He didn’t want thanks. Just pass it on. Pass it on to others.”

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