For the 2021–22 academic year, we are pleased to announce the senior fellowship of artist Dread Scott. Senior fellows are chosen by invitation; their appointments last from nine to eighteen months, during which they contribute to the Colby community through academic engagement and one or more public programs related to their research. Scott’s fellowship represents a collaboration between the Lunder Institute and Colby’s Center for the Arts and Humanities as part of the Center’s 2021–22 humanities theme, “Freedom & Captivity.”
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. Scott’s studio is now based in Brooklyn.
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 collection 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 and has also received fellowships from Open Society Foundations and United States Artists as well as a Creative Capital grant. He works in a range of media from performance and photography to screen-printing and video.
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.”
Scott is on the board of the New York Foundation for the Arts and is an academician in the National Academy of Design.