Lecture by Dread Scott

Presented as part of the Grad Fine Arts Satellite Lecture Series
March 1, 2012, 6:00–8:00 pm
Imagine a World Without America (2007), screen print on canvas, 75 x 75"

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Dread Scott makes revolutionary art to propel history forward. He first received national attention in 1989 when his art became the center of controversy over its use of the American flag. President Bush (I) declared his artwork What is the Proper Way to Display a U.S. Flag? “disgraceful” and the entire US Senate denounced this work when they passed legislation to “protect the flag.” As part of the popular effort to oppose moves to make patriotism compulsory, he, along with three other protesters, burned flags on the steps of the US Capitol. This resulted in a Supreme Court case and a landmark First Amendment decision.

The 2006 Whitney Biennial included his art in the Down by Law section and his work was also included in recent exhibitions at PS1/MoMA, the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum and the DeBeyerd Center for Contemporary Art in the Netherlands. Roebling Hall and Robert Miller Gallery in New York have exhibited recent work and his public sculptures have been installed at Logan Square in Philadelphia and Franconia Sculpture Park in Minnesota. His work is in the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the New Museum of Contemporary Art and the Akron Art Museum.

He has been awarded a Mid Atlantic/NEA Regional Fellowship in Photography, a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Sculpture and Fellowship in Performance Art/Multi-disciplinary Art, and a Creative Capital Foundation grant. In 2000 he participated in the Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue directed by Anna Deavere Smith at Harvard University. That year he also worked on a Special Edition Fellowship at the Lower East Side Printshop.

He has appeared on numerous local and national TV and radio shows including Oprah, The Today Show, and CBS This Morning speaking about his work and the controversy surrounding it. He has been written about in The New York Times, Art In America, ArtNews, The Village Voice, Time, The London Guardian and several other newspapers, magazines and books. Roberta Smith, art critic for the New York Times, described one of his works as “quite resonant.”

His work has been integrated into academic curricula and What is the Proper Way... is discussed in many art history classes and is featured in Henry Sayer’s “foundations” text A World of Art.

Dread works in a range of media including installation, photography, screen printing, video and performance. The breadth of media he explores is unified by the themes he addresses and how he handles them. His art illuminates the misery that this society creates for so many and it often encourages the viewer to envision how the world could be.