The Cincinnati Skirball Museum’s new exhibit features Ellie Beth Scott, an artist based in Sante Fe, NM, and her new work “Eve I Understand.” The exhibit opens on Oct. 19, part of the re-opening of the Skirball’s core collection, and runs until February 4.
“We have had a huge section [of the museum] closed since 2019…and we are re-installing our holidays and festivals, ritual, and lifecycle exhibits,” said Abby Schwartz, the curatorial consultant at the Skirball.
Scott’s work is a series of needlework and stitched pieces based on many of the ritual items found in the Skirball Museum. The exhibit is somewhat of a homecoming for the multi-media artist. Scott grew up in Cincinnati and credits her exposure to art at camp and high school with setting her down the path of being an artist.
“I’ve been fortunate, I always had the opportunity to participate in those kinds of activities at camp, or even when I took an art history AP class at Walnut Hills [High School] and it sparked my interest,” said Scott.
She views needlework as something that can be practical – women have used it for years to take care of their families – but also as an opportunity to be creative.
“When I had young children stitching was something I could always bring with me,” said Scott. “Women have always stitched, they’ve had little samplers or their needlepoint, it is the paradigm of being a mom and going to different things, and you have downtime while you’re waiting and you can still be creative. It’s hard to set up an art studio while your kids are playing soccer but this is something you can bring with you.”
This isn’t Scott’s first needlework mural in Cincinnati – she previously created works for the Proctor & Gamble Headquarters in 2005 and the Cincinnati Reds in 2003. Scott didn’t start stitching until graduate school, but said that it was natural that she started because her grandfather, an immigrant from Poland, worked as a tailor.
Her new work “Eve I Understand” is a collection of small pieces, some of them recreations of works already in the Skirball collection.
“It’s my interpretation of little things in the collection,” said Scott. “There’s candlestick holders and a Seder plate…and ritual objects that Jewish women pertain to.”
For Scott, stitching is something that connects her to the past. Because of its portability and accessibility, it is something she says Jews could take with them from place to place, even while fleeing as refugees.
She will be giving a short talk on Oct. 19 for the exhibit opening and will also be part of a talk on Oct. 26 to discuss the relationship between her pieces and the Skirball collection. Scott will also be returning later in 2023 to host a needlework workshop.
“I think stitching is a very simple thing anybody can do, it is just threading a needle,” said Scott. “You can get fancy, and do all these different kinds of stitches, but the simple act can be done by anyone.”