Joyce J. Scott. Photo by Joseph Hyde, courtesy Goya Contemporary Gallery, Baltimore

A Guide for Grownups Visiting with Kids


Greetings! Welcome to Joyce J. Scott: Walk a Mile in My Dreams. We are glad you’re here, and that you brought young people with you.

Joyce J. Scott’s art is joyful, comedic, and hopeful, even while many works address challenges in our world, including sexual violence, gun violence, stereotypes, and racism. We created this resource so that you and the child in your care can explore these topics together and learn a bit more about what the artist has to say.

So, let’s jump in!


The staffs of the Baltimore Museum of Art & Seattle Art Museum

How to Use This Guide

For Joyce J. Scott, learning is a collaborative process for people of all ages. This guide includes many artworks for discussion. Find the ones that interest you and your group, then read about the artwork together.

We have suggested several questions and prompts—listed in bold on the following pages—for you to start a conversation with young visitors.

If you don’t know where to begin, try the “See, Think, Wonder” thinking routine developed by the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Asking open-ended questions allows imaginations to run free and opens the door for further conversation!


Encourage the members of your group to take time to look. Ask, “What do you see?” or “What do you notice?” Take turns describing the artwork. Every observation is meaningful.


Ask, “What do you think about that?” or “What do you think the artist is telling us?” to build on an observation. You might also ask, “What do you see that makes you say that?”


Ask, “What does this artwork make you wonder?”

"We love our children, and we want them to be highly informed, smart, funny, and rascally... so that they’ll know how to be complete human beings." - Joyce J. Scott

Elizabeth Talford Scott. Fifty Year Quilt. 1930-1980. Collection of Joyce J. Scott, courtesy Goya Contemporary Gallery, Baltimore

The Threads that Unite My Seat to Knowledge

Find Fifty Year Quilt, pictured here, hanging on Joyce J. Scott’s larger installation The Threads That Unite My Seat to Knowledge.


Fifty Year Quilt was made by her mother, Elizabeth Talford Scott. Talford Scott started this quilt when she was a teenager and finished it when she was an adult. She taught her daughter how to sew on this quilt.

What is something you have learned from a parent, grandparent, or adult in your life?

This quilt is just one piece of Joyce J. Scott’s installation, which she calls “a home or habitat for the soul.” The other quilts were made by her godmother and grandparents. Through the work, she honors the generations of makers who came before her—their struggles, survival, and quest to create a life of freedom and joy.

What makes you feel joy?

Joyce J. Scott. Joyce’s Necklace. c. 1978-85. Rotasa Collection. © Joyce J. Scott, courtesy Goya Contemporary. Photo by Ian Reeves

Fashioning Consciousness

Look for Joyce’s Necklace.


Joyce J. Scott loves to make wearable art. She makes jewelry and head-to-toe looks that tell others about the wearer.

What do you wear that might tell someone something about you?

Scott made this necklace with beads, gifted and repurposed objects, and materials found and collected over time.

Why do you think she chose these objects for Joyce’s Necklace?

Objects hold memories for the artist. Find a charm shaped like arms and legs. Scott collected these milagros (miracles) while living in Mexico.

What items would you use to create a necklace?

Joyce J. Scott. You Don’t Even Know Me. 1990. Public Art Fund Commission for the Exhibition Messages to the Public, Time Square, New York. Joyce J. Scott papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution

"Thunder Thighs, We Salute You!"

Watch You Don’t Even Know Me and read the words out loud together.


This animation was displayed over Times Square in New York City, visited by thousands of people a day.

What do you think is the message of this short video? 

Scott often says that humans are more than “just one thing.” It’s easy to think we can tell everything about a person just by looking at them, but we can’t. It’s important to take time to get to know each other.

What’s something about you that others might not know just by looking at you?

Joyce J. Scott. Man Eating Watermelon. 1986. Collection of Paul Daniel and Linda DePalma. © Joyce J. Scott, courtesy Goya Contemporary. Photo by Mitro Hood

Messing with Stereotypes

Find Man Eating Watermelon.


This work explores the stereotype of watermelons being associated with Black people. A stereotype is a belief that everyone in a particular group is the same or will behave the same way.

More information about the history of the watermelon stereotype can be found on the wall text in this gallery.

Have you ever experienced a stereotype or been made fun of for the way you look?

How did that make you feel?

Joyce J. Scott says, “If one person is oppressed, everyone is. If you have to put your feet on someone’s head, how can you move? You have no freedom either.”

How do stereotypes hurt everyone?

What can you do to fight stereotypes?

Joyce J. Scott. Ancestry Doll 1. 2011. Johns Hopkins University, Sheridan Libraries. © Joyce J. Scott, courtesy Goya Contemporary

Ancestry and Progeny

Scott uses the N-word in the titles of a few artworks nearby. These titles are not an invitation to say the word aloud.

Look for Ancestry Doll I. There are also other dolls in this case.


What objects and materials has Scott brought together in these artworks?

In her ancestry dolls, the artist invites us to think about all the factors that make up our identities, including our families.

She says, “You cannot choose your ancestors and they can’t choose you. So all the traits—your humor, the way you look, the way you hang out, the way you interact with each other—is sometimes kind of out of your control because you could not choose who you came from and they couldn’t choose who you would be. And that’s also the strength of it because you have the parts of them that are great gifts.”

What traits do you have that remind you of someone you love?

Joyce J. Scott. Head Shot. 2008. Chrysler Museum of Art, Museum Purchase © Joyce J. Scott, courtesy Goya Contemporary, photo: Ed Pollard

Making a Way Where There Is No Way

Find Head Shot.


The title of this artwork gives it multiple meanings. Say “head. shot.” and “headshot” out loud.

What stories could this artwork be telling?

Joyce J. Scott often depicts guns in her work, examining the issues that fuel gun violence, from the widespread availability of firearms to their glorification in popular movies, television, and music.

She says, “I am worried about the next generation of kids who are comfortable with violence, who will own guns. And that comes from us… I feel a responsibility in living in a land where this is happening.”

What do you worry about?

What makes you feel better when you’re worried?

Carl Clark, Linda Day Clark Untitled (Portrait of Joyce J. Scott wearing Lynching Necklace) c. late 1990s. Carl Clark, Linday Day Clark, Courtesy of Linday Day Clark

Bearing Witness

The artwork in this gallery responds to the history of lynching and anti-Black violence in the United States. Please enter with care. Consider finding a space for conversations after a period of close looking and contemplation to be mindful of others. Scott uses the N-word in the titles of a few artworks nearby. These titles are not an invitation to say the word aloud.

Look for Lynching Necklace.


Joyce J. Scott made this work while thinking about the horrific legacy of violence committed by white Americans against Black Americans.

Why do you think the artist made this artwork to be worn, and how might it feel to wear it?

Scott says wearing something like Lynching Necklace is “like wearing a newspaper on your chest. It’s inviting someone into your realm that causes them to ask you questions and you answer back.”

What do you like to share about yourself?

What questions do you like to ask to learn more about others?

Joyce J. Scott. Nuclear Nanny. 1983-1984. Baltimore Museum of Art: The Amalie and Randolph Rothschild Acquisition Fund, BMA 1984.63. © Joyce J. Scott, courtesy Goya Contemporary. Photo by Mitro Hood

Better Out Than In

Find Nuclear Nanny.


What colors do you see swirling around? Sometimes an artist uses colors and lines to express how they feel.

How might the artist have been feeling when she made this artwork?

What do you see that makes you say that?

Scott made this artwork during the Cold War (c. 1947-1991), when the threat of nuclear conflict, primarily between the United States and the Soviet Union and their allies, made many people feel scared. She believes art can be used to process overwhelming feelings and connect with others.

What do you do when you’re having a big feeling and want to process your emotion?

What might you do to help a friend when they’re having a big feeling?

Joyce J. Scott. None Are Free Until All Are Free (necklace). Yale University Art Gallery, Janet and Simeon Braguin Fund. © Joyce J. Scott, courtesy Goya Contemporary

None Are Free Until All Are Free

Find None Are Free Until All Are Free (necklace).


None Are Free Until All Are Free. What do you think the title of this artwork means?

Scott invites us to recognize that we each play a role in bettering the future of our world and protecting ourselves and those around us. We each have a voice to speak out against injustice, fight for equality and human rights, spread truth, create joy, and help one another.

What do you do to help others? What do people in your life do to help you?

Joyce J. Scott. War Woman III. 2014-2019. Seattle Art Museum, Benaroya Glass Art Acquisition Fund and Plestcheeff Endowment for the Decorative Arts. © Joyce J. Scott, courtesy Goya Contemporary

Solace For a World in Constant Flux

Look at War Woman III.


Take turns telling a story about the figures in this sculpture.

What drawings, shapes, and objects do you see and what do you think they mean?

Like many of the artworks in this exhibition, War Woman III addresses equality. The artist says, “Women have to stand up and make choices just like men.”

What do you stand up for?


Here are some resources to aid in continuing the conversations started today or beginning conversations on the topics covered in this exhibition.