The remarkable story of “outsider” artist Judith Scott, who was institutionalized for more than thirty years before being reunited with her sister
From birth, fraternal twins Judith and Joyce Scott lived as if they were one person in two bodies, understanding instinctively what the other wanted and felt, despite the fact that Judy had Down syndrome, profound deafness, and never learned to speak or sign. But this idyllic childhood of color, texture, and feeling ended abruptly when, at age seven, Judy was taken from their shared bed while Joyce slept, not knowing that the wholeness they had known was being shattered.
For the next three decades, Joyce is left without her other half and must grieve unexpected loss while navigating her relationship with an emotionally distant mother—alone. Even so, her life parallels her twin’s in surprising ways. While in college, Joyce too is sent away, pressured to relinquish the secret daughter she bore in hiding to adoption.
Decades later, Joyce resolves to reunite with her sister and fill their remaining years with joy. After overcoming legal hurdles to become Judy’s legal guardian, she enrolls her in an art center for adults with disabilities in Oakland, California. Judy is hesitant at first, but after two years of uninterested painting and drawing, her untapped creativity suddenly ignites when she is introduced to fiber art, and she begins carefully and intentionally winding yarn and other materials around combinations of found objects. With unflagging intensity, Judy works five days a week for the next eighteen years, producing more than two-hundred astoundingly diverse fiber sculptures. Unconcerned with her growing fame, she remains fully immersed in her artistic vision until her death in 2005. Today, Judith Scott’s work is displayed in museums and galleries around the world, in some of the most prestigious collections of contemporary art.
Entwined is a penetrating personal narrative that explores a complex world of disability, loss, reunion, and the resiliency of the human spirit. Part memoir, part biography, Entwined is a poignant and astonishing story about sisters finding their voices in each other’s love and through art.
“In this page-turner of a memoir, Scott, a registered nurse and poet, recounts the remarkable, and often disturbing, true story of her life with and without her beloved fraternal twin sister, Judy...Scott’s haunting story shows the human race at both its worst and best.”
—Karen Springen, Booklist Starred Review
“Entwined is more than the story of twin sisters torn apart by the failings of society. It is an emotionally textured, indelibly layered, radiant weave of family and history, secrets and loyalty, disability and defiance, tragedy and forgiveness. Joyce Scott’s memoir speaks of a pain almost too wrenching to fathom, and a love so vast it will untie your own heart. I began this book spellbound by the intimacy Joyce shared with her famously gifted sister, Judith. I ended it moved by the transcendent language of art—and its power to turn suffering into beauty.”
—Rachel Simon, author of The Story of Beautiful Girl and Riding the Bus with My Sister
“Many books are hash-tagged ‘inspirational,’ but Entwined is the genuine thing, that rare and heart-wrenching blend of humor and pathos, but also a shiny gallantry, that makes it truly unforgettable.”
—Jacquelyn Mitchard, author of The Deep End of the Ocean and Two If by Sea
“Joyce Scott and her sister, Judith, tell the same story, one using words and one using lengths of string and yarn to weave a complex and deeply moving narrative of their violent separation when they were children. Entwined is a courageous exploration of what that separation cost both of these women, and of what they somehow managed to protect and preserve. This is a profound, wise, and beautiful telling of their shared story.”
—Meredith Hall, author of Without a Map
“This story is a testament to love, the mysteries and pull of connection, and seeing past convention and appearances to our true selves. Joyce Scott knew, over decades and thousands of miles, that her twin needed to be freed. It took two forms of courage to liberate not only her own heart, but her sister’s gigantic creative force.”
—Paul and Judy Karasik, coauthors, The Ride Together: A Brother and Sister’s Memoir of Autism in the Family
“Entwined afforded me the rare experience of finishing a book and wanting immediately to read it again. Joining the worlds of outsider art and disability with startling emotional depth, Joyce Scott takes the reader on a powerful journey of loss, longing, family, false starts, resilience—and ultimately—love.”
—James W. Trent Jr., author of Inventing the Feeble Mind
PART I Bound
2: The Colors of Gone
4: A Thousand Miles Away
5: Without a Past
6: Among the Redwoods
7: A World of Silence
PART II Unbound
9: A Big Red Bowling Ball
10: A New Language
11: A Room of Her Own
12: The Opening
13: A Fleeting Smile
15: Fish in a Bottle
16: A Soundless Symphony
17: All in Black