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John T. Scott, 67; New Orleans artist known for his sculptures

September 10, 2007|From the Associated Press

John T. Scott, a New Orleans artist best known for large-scale abstract sculptures, has died. He was 67.

Scott, a longtime art professor at Xavier University in New Orleans who received the prestigious John D. MacArthur Fellowship -- commonly called the "genius grant" -- in 1992, died Sept. 1 at Methodist Hospital in Houston after a long fight against pulmonary fibrosis.

The New Orleans Museum of Art held a retrospective of Scott's work in 2005, shortly before Hurricane Katrina hit the city.

It featured a variety of works, including drawings, prints and huge metal sculptures.

"I have never seen the breadth of expression that I saw that day," Xavier University President Norman Francis said.

Scott's "passion for the historic contributions of African Americans in the arts, humanities and music was without limit," Francis said.

And, Francis said, Scott gave himself unstintingly as a teacher, wanting only for students to follow "the tradition, his tradition, of excellence."

"He had a very famous admonition that all of us remember," Francis said. "He didn't want thanks. Just pass it on. Pass it on to others."

Scott was born on a farm in the Gentilly section of New Orleans; his father was chauffeur to the owners, who used the farm to supply meat and produce for their restaurant, Kolb's. When he was 7, the family moved to the Lower 9th Ward.

His love of art may have been sparked when his mother taught him to embroider. He began formal art studies after high school, earning a bachelor of arts from Xavier and a master of fine arts from Michigan State University in 1965.

That same year, he returned to Xavier as a professor.

Hurricane Katrina forced Scott to evacuate to Houston, where his disease required two double-lung transplant surgeries.

He is survived by his wife, Anna Rita Scott; a son, Ayo Scott; four daughters, Maria Scott-Osborne, Tyra Joseph, Lauren Kannady and Alanda Rhodes; and six granddaughters.

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