Isaac Scott is a ceramic artist, curator, and photographer from Madison, WI who is currently living in Philadelphia, PA. Isaac is an MFA candidate at Tyler School of Art and Architecture and plans to graduate in Fall of 2021. His ceramic work has been exhibited around the country including The Clay Studio in Philadelphia and at the 20219 National Conference for Education in the Ceramic Arts in Minneapolis. Isaac’s photographs of the 2020 Uprising in Philadelphia were featured in the June 22ndth, 2020 issue of the New Yorker. In August of 2020 Isaac completed his first mural alongside collaborators Gerald A. Brown and Roberto Lugo. The Stay Golden mural is located at 33rd and W Diamond St. in Philadelphia, PA.
In Isaac's own words:
My work is rooted in observation. Reflecting, absorbing and reinterpreting the world around me. My practice has focused primarily on ceramic vessels and sculpture but after losing access to my studio during the pandemic I turned to photography. Exploring my neighborhood in North Philly, I began to capture the dilapidated buildings, graffiti, and decaying infrastructure. I found it to be both disturbing and beautiful. The feeling that, “there was once something thriving here but went terribly wrong,” is one that has stayed with me since arriving in North Philly. Having grown up in Wisconsin, I thought about what it would be like to grow up in this environment. I thought about how we carry this decay internally.
Following the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police I started documenting the protests and marches that took place in Philadelphia. I stayed in the streets all summer and fall of 2020 and the experiences I brought back from that time will stay with me forever. The burning of tear gas on my eyes, lungs and flesh, the screams of protesters being beaten by police, the tension in my body as I marched past military officers with rifles, the solidarity I felt with the people marching in the streets are all experiences I continue to carry with me. I focused on documenting the humanity of these events. Not as a journalist or bystander but as someone who was a participant in the movement on the frontlines.
One week that sticks out to me, was the week following the murder to Walter Wallace Jr. by the hands of the police on October 26th, 2020. I witnessed black youth pull up pieces of concrete from the sidewalk, bricks from dilapidated buildings and trash from the streets and throw them at police, through store windows, and the windows of abandoned police vehicles. It was a reopening of deep wounds in the West Philly Community.
Since returning to my ceramic practice, I have continued to reflect on my time here in Philadelphia. How can I gather what I have witnessed and felt here and build something new? Through the clay and the lens I can shift the focus of the viewer or bring them closer to my own experience.
Chase Travaille is working with Jason Jacques Gallery to support the Last Prisoner Project's mission.