Dread Scott: The Art of Liberation

Presented by the Colby Museum’s Lunder Institute for American Art

Dread Scott imagines a world free of oppression and exploitation, with resistance and liberation at the forefront. During this talk, the artist will present a range of work from the past 30 years that addresses themes of American identity and patriotism, including the criminalization of Black and Latino youth and the continuum of resistance against murder by police connecting the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s with contemporary Black Lives Matters organizing.

Scott’s art allows audience members to explore important questions surrounding the economic, social, and governing ideas of America. His pivotal work Slave Rebellion Reenactment will serve as a starting point to address Freedom and Captivity, the 2021 theme of Colby’s Center for Arts and Humanities, as well as Incarceration and Human Rights, the focus of this year’s Oak Institute for Human Rights Program.

Capacity is limited to 50 in-person attendees and 800 virtual attendees. Register here.

The Lunder Institute for American Art’s programs in 2021–22, including Dread Scott’s Senior Fellowship, are made possible through the support of the Lunder Foundation, Peter and Paula Lunder Family, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Ossorio Foundation, Alice Kang P’21, and OhSang Kwon P’21, the Oak Institute for Human Rights, and the Buck Lab for Climate and Environment.

Biography

Dread Scott makes revolutionary art to propel history forward. His work is exhibited across the United States and internationally. In 1989, while he was a student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, his art became the center of national controversy over its transgressive use of the American flag. President George H. W. Bush called his art “disgraceful,” and the entire US Senate denounced and outlawed this work. He became part of a landmark Supreme Court case when he and others defied the new law by burning flags on the steps of the US Capitol.

Cristin Tierney Gallery will present Dread Scott’s first solo gallery exhibition in 20 years entitled We’re Going to End Slavery. Join Us!, opening September 17th, 2021. The exhibition features large-scale performance stills and flags from the artist’s 2019 community-engaged performance project Slave Rebellion Reenactment.

Scott’s work has been included in exhibitions at New York’s MoMA PS1, the Walker Art Center (Minneapolis), Jack Shainman Gallery (New York), and Gallery MOMO (Cape Town, South Africa). His performance work has been presented at BAM in Brooklyn and on the streets of Harlem, New York. His work is in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Brooklyn Museum. It has been featured on the cover of Artforum magazine and in Vanity Fair. The New York Times selected his art as one of “The 25 Most Influential Works of American Protest Art since World War II.” He is a 2021 John Simon Guggenheim Fellow, recipient of the 2021 Public Art Dialogue (PAD) Award for achievement in the field of public art and the inaugural Frieze Impact Prize, in partnership with the Art for Justice Fund, also in 2021, recipient of the Creative Capital Grant, and has received fellowships from Open Society Foundations and United States Artists. He works in a range of media from performance, photography, and video to screen-printing and installation.

Scott plays with fire—metaphorically and sometimes literally, as when he burned $171 on Wall Street and encouraged those with money to add theirs to the pyre. His work asks viewers to look soberly at America’s past and at our present. Writing about a recent banner project, Angelica Rogers wrote in the New York Times, “…it was difficult to look away from the flag’s blocky, capitalized type. ‘A Man Was Lynched by Police Yesterday.’ It shouted the words so matter-of-factly that I felt myself physically flinch.”