Dread Scott



What people are saying about Dread (quotes and some press coverage)

Bring Dread to your campus. Brochure describing Dread’s university lectures. (PDF)

Dread Scott FAQ




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 G. H.W. Bush declared his artwork What is the Proper Way to Display a U.S. Flag? “disgraceful” and the entire US Senate denounced this work and outlawed it when they passed legislation to “protect the flag.” To oppose this law and other efforts which would effectively 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.

His art has been exhibited at the MoMA PS1, the Contemporary Art Museum Houston, The Walker Art Center and at the Pori Art Museum in Pori, Finlandas well as on view in America is Hard to See, the Whitney Museum’s inaugural exhibition in their new building. In 2012, BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music) presented his performance Dread Scott: Decision as part of their 30th Anniversary Next Wave Festival. In 2008, the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts presented Dread Scott: Welcome to America. Winkleman Gallery and Cristin Tierney 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 (NY) and the Akron Art Museum (OH).

He is a recipient of a Creative Capital Foundation grant, a Pollock Krasner Foundation grant, Fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, and was a resident at Art Omi International Artists Residency and the Workspace Residency at the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.

He has been written about in The New York Times, Art In America, Sculpture Magazine, ArtNews, ArtForum, Art21 Magazine, Time, The London Guardian and several other newspapers, magazines and books. 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.

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 performance, photography, screen printing, video, installation and painting. His works can be hard-edged and poignant. He plays with fire—metaphorically and sometimes literally—as when he burned $171 on Wall Street and encouraged those with money to burn to add theirs to the pyre. 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.

Dread Scott Bio (PDF)


Artists Statement

I make revolutionary art to propel history forward. This is a world where a tiny handful of people controls the great wealth and knowledge humanity as a whole has created. It is a world of profound polarization, exploitation and suffering and billions are excluded from intellectual development and full participation in society. It does not have to be this way and my art is part of forging a radically different world. The work illuminates the misery that this society creates for so many people and it often encourages the viewer to envision how the world could be.

In Imagine a World Without America, the painting literally asks the viewer to contemplate that absence, opening the possibility of something different to fill that void.

Dread Scott: Decision is a performance that reflects on America, a country whose democracy is rooted in slavery. These roots are woven into the fabric of the country and its founding documents. During the performance I read from the text of 1857 Supreme Court Dred Scott Decision while a group of 4 nude Black performers was guarded and controlled two live German Shepherd dogs, which dogs barked continually. The audience was part of the work and had to pass through the men to go into a “voting booth” one at a time and respond to a moral question. Money to Burn is a performance that was enacted on Wall Street in 2010. Starting with $250, I burned singles, fives, tens and twenties, one bill at a time, while encouraging others to join me with their own money. The transgressive act of burning my own money alluded to the absurdity of a system based on profit. It’s crazy to burn money but it is the height of rationality to have a market where billions can vanish.

I work in a range of media: performance, installation, video, photography, printmaking and painting. The thread that connects my work is an engagement with sharp social questions confronting humanity and a desire to push formal and conceptual boundaries as part of contributing to artistic development. My projects are presented in venues ranging from major museum galleries to street corners. Sometimes work is presented to an unexpecting audience. I bring contemporary art to a broader public and the audience is often an active element of the artwork.


Artist statement (PDF)


Join Mailing List


Interviews with me and some articles I’ve written

Media coverage

Extensive but not updated bibliography of Dread Scott (print, TV & radio) (PDF)