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Dread Scott

Scott Tyler (born 1965), known professionally as Dread Scott, is an American artist whose works, often participatory in nature, focus on the experience of African Americans in the contemporary United States. His first major work, What Is the Proper Way to Display a U.S. Flag (1989), was at the center of a controversy regarding whether his piece resulted in desecration of the American flag.

Dread Scott
EducationSchool of the Art Institute of Chicago
Notable work
Performance, Photography, Installation, Screen-printing and Video


Early life and Art Institute of ChicagoEdit

Scott was raised in Hyde Park, Chicago, the only son of his father, a photographer, and mother, who was "largely a housewife" but became a travel agent when Scott's father became ill and unable to work.[1][2] For twelve years, Scott attended the upper-class Latin School, where other students often directed racial slurs towards him.[1]

Scott attended college at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He later moved to New York City to begin his artistic career.[1] His adopted name, "Dread", had multiple meanings: combined with his surname it evoked Dred Scott, a black slave who unsuccessfully sued for his freedom during the 1850s, after having been held in a free state; was an allusion to the dreadlocks of Rastafarians; and reflected a desire to cause "dread" among others.[1]

In 1989, while attending the Art Institute, Scott exhibited What Is the Proper Way to Display a U.S. Flag, a participatory work that invited viewers to write comments in a ledger, mounted on a podium that stood at one end of an American flag spread on the floor. The work consisted of a collage, which featured flag-covered coffins and South Korean students burning the American flag, and an American flag placed on the floor beneath the aforementioned ledger. Participants were seemingly directed to step on the flag to leave messages, though it was possible to avoid touching the flag by approaching the ledger from the side.[3] The exhibit generated intense controversy: several major politicians, including George H. W. Bush, condemned the exhibit. Some congressmen proposed making flag desecration illegal in the United States.[4]

Later worksEdit

In response to the deaths of unarmed African Americans Alton Sterling and Philando Castile at the hands of police, Scott created a flag, reading "A Man Was Lynched by Police Yesterday". It was inspired by a banner that the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) displayed from what was then their national office in New York, reading "A MAN WAS LYNCHED BY POLICE YESTERDAY". Scott's flag was flown at the Jack Shainman Gallery in Manhattan.[5][6]

In 2017 Dread Scott launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $40,000 by December 8 of that year, to support his latest project: re-enacting the 1811 German Coast Uprising in Louisiana. The revolt is the largest slave rebellion in Northern American history and took place upriver of New Orleans, Louisiana.[7] The project is planned in partnership with the organization Antenna, which promotes visual and literary arts relevant to communities of New Orleans.[8]



  1. ^ a b c d Dubin, Steven C. (October 18, 2013). Arresting Images: Impolitic Art and Uncivil Actions. Routledge. p. 104. ISBN 978-1-135-21460-9.
  2. ^ Violaine Roussel; Bleuwenn Lechaux (2 February 2010). Voicing Dissent: American Artists and the War on Iraq. Routledge. p. 178. ISBN 978-1-135-19237-2.
  3. ^ Louis P. Masur (1 August 2010). The Soiling of Old Glory: The Story of a Photograph That Shocked America. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 91. ISBN 978-1-59691-854-2.
  4. ^ Robert Justin Goldstein (January 1996). Burning the Flag: The Great 1989-1990 American Flag Desecration Controversy. Kent State University Press. pp. 77–78. ISBN 978-0-87338-598-5.
  5. ^ Rogers, Angelica (July 14, 2016). "Does This Flag Make You Flinch?". The New York Times.
  6. ^ Brooks, Katherine (July 8, 2016). "Flag Reading 'A Man Was Lynched By Police Yesterday' Rises In New York". The Huffington Post.
  7. ^ "Dread Scott Reenacts a Slave Revolt to Radically Reconsider Freedom". Hyperallergic. 2017-11-17. Retrieved 2017-12-09.
  8. ^ "About Antenna". Antenna.Works. 2011-05-18. Retrieved 2017-12-09.
  9. ^ "Whitney Museum of American Art: Dread Scott". Retrieved 2018-05-01.

External linksEdit