John Scott was born into a deeply religious Catholic family in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1940. He received his MFA in sculpture and printmaking from Michigan State University, East Lansing, in 1965. He has been a professor of fine art at Xavier University in New Orleans since that time. Scott has won various national-level awards for his work and has completed several public and privately commissioned installations throughout the United States.
Scott traditionally works in mixed media, but he is currently making painted kinetic metal sculptures that draw upon African-American traditions and themes. Many of these works respond to peripheral movement and therefore encourage an active relationship between art, its surroundings, and its audience. Scott first began to incorporate kinetic qualities in his work during the summer of 1983 when he studied with sculptor George Rickey at the Hand Hollow Foundation in New York. During this period he initiated a new emphasis on linear elements and bright color characteristic of his current style. Although Scott is concerned with formal issues, he firmly believes in the power of art to respond to social and political realities. His recent work, however, is less political than it is evocative of the cultural traditions brought to New Orleans by African slaves. Indeed, just as the rhythms and relationships of different types of New Orleans jazz are echoed in the moving, changing lines of metal, so do the brilliantly painted markings recall African voodoo and tribal rituals that derive from America's multicultured past.
Jacquelyn Serwer, curatorial files (Washington, D.C.: National Museum of American Art, 1995)