Muna Brown ’23 Reflects on Her Work with Dread Scott

In early October, Lunder Institute for American Art Senior Fellow Dread Scott visited Waterville for the first of his on-campus engagements with the Colby College community during his yearlong fellowship.

Scott delivered a lecture, titled “The Art of Liberation,” at the Greene Block + Studios, inviting audience members to explore important questions surrounding the economic, social, and governing ideas of America. His pivotal work Slave Rebellion Reenactment served 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.

During his visit, Scott spent time with Muna Brown ’23, who is serving as his student organizer during the 2021–22 academic year. As part of her internship, Brown is collaborating on a year-long research and practice project surrounding the topic of fugitivity as it relates to the Scott’s ideas and the Arts and Humanities theme of Freedom and Captivity.

The following is Brown’s reflection on her initial encounter with the artist:

When applying for the position of student intern under Dread Scott, I looked forward to establishing a productive method of research and communication. Before working with Dread, most of my art came from a place of personal feelings. Which isn’t wrong. But, I had yet to experience what it was like to conduct outreach with a community before producing any artworks. This is what I valued most from my time with Dread. The conversations with students, faculty, and staff about who they are and what they experience is crucial if you’re going to create something for them. For us. Another thing that I took from my time with Dread was broadening my perspective on who and how can take part in the revolution. In my conversations with him about audience, he helped me understand the significance of making your statement but also making space for everyone. What I mean by this is that yes something may be a critique of the institution, but how are you allowing the subjects of your critique to participate in the work? I want to point out the wrong but also push you to change this wrong. And in order to do so I must talk with you not at you.

Image: Muna Brown ’23 watches as Dread Scott speaks at the Green Block + Studios. Photo by Coco McCracken.