Art accessibility

From the moment she stepped into her first art history class, Nellie Scott (‘08) knew what she wanted to do. Now the Director at the Corita Art Center in Los Angeles, California, Scott says some of her most formative “aha” experiences happened while viewing artwork.

“Art encapsulates moments of history. And everyone brings their own history to the piece they’re standing in front of – that’s part of the magic,” remarks Scott.

Although not a traditional artist herself, Scott asserts that we all make art but don’t always realize it. “Art comes in many different forms. It’s the creative energy we put in the world. My creative energy gets poured into helping others create.”

Defining Encounters

Scott was raised in Southern Oregon by a family that traveled the U.S. and exposed her to art. Her vistas expanded when her high school’s art club took a brief tour of Europe.

At PSU, Scott obtained her bachelor’s in Art History. “Art accessibility and thinking through what access to art means served as my foundation. My professors at PSU understood that. They were a great group of intellectual and empowering people.” Scott recalls.

After college, Scott split her time between East Hampton and New York working as an independent consultant and art advisor for a variety of foundations, institutions, artists, and estates. One of her diverse clients included Nathan Sawaya, the contemporary artist renown for bringing LEGO® bricks into the art world as a sculptural medium and art educational tool.

“Nathan scratched important issues about removing barriers to art museums and galleries. People didn’t think they knew how to speak the language of art, but his work was welcoming and opened doors to complex conversations,” Scott recalls. “What I do now is a culmination of many of those conversations.”

Ripple Effects

In 2018, Scott became the Director at Corita Art Center, which preserves and promotes Corita Kent’s art and values. Corita Kent was an internationally acclaimed pop artist whose work embodied her ethos on issues of poverty, racism, war, peace, and social justice. “There’s a call to action in Corita’s work that I find that fascinating. It’s that hope is not optimism – it’s hard work and you have to show up every day to make change,” Scott claims.

Kent also taught art using her mediums of paper and silk screen, and her students continue to share stories of the impact she had on their lives. In tribute, the center serves as both a museum and an anchor for arts education in the community. “You can’t get to social justice without education,” Scott says. “Education is empowerment and it creates ripple effects.”

Kent’s message personally resonates with Scott in terms of access and the democratic process. “The arts educational component of making change has always been at the heart of my endeavors,” Scott says. “I feel so honored to represent and navigate Corita’s legacy into the world.”