Meet New NYFA Board Member: Dread Scott
“Life is long and art trends are short. Make art, and a commitment to be engaged, for the long haul.”
Over the past year here at NYFA we have had the distinct privilege of adding five new members to our Board of Directors: Elia Alba, Mary Lang, Bonnie Podolsky, Dread Scott, and Carmelita Tropicana. In the coming weeks we will be introducing each of them individually to give you an understanding of the remarkable artists and art advocates who are helping to shape our organization.
This week we are proud to introduce to you artist and three-time NYFA fellow Dread Scott (’01, ‘05, ‘12). Dread was nice enough to sit down with us and answer a few questions on his work, his interest in NYFA, and his advice for emerging artists.
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 while he was a student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he received a B.F.A. This work was denounced by President G.H.W. Bush and outlawed by Congress. His art has been exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art, MoMA PS1, the Walker Art Center, and at the Pori Art Museum in Finland. In 2012, BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music) presented his performance Dread Scott: Decision. He is a recipient of a Creative Capital Foundation grant, a Pollock-Krasner grant and Fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts. His work is in the collection of the Whitney Museum and the Arkon Art Museum. He works in a range of media including installation, photography, screen printing, video and performance.
NYFA: What made you want to join the board at NYFA?
DS: I joined the NYFA board because I feel that it is important for artists to contribute to strengthening our community, beyond what we do by making our art. NYFA’s support of my art has been an important part of my career. Beyond my own art benefiting from NYFA funding and acknowledgement, many, many artists have had their careers strengthened by NYFA in a myriad ways and I think that this needs to be supported. NYFA is critical for the arts in NY and is doing a good job on its mission. At the same time, I believe that as an artist, especially doing the kind of work that I do, I have insights that could make NYFA even stronger and better able to serve artists and I hope to be able to contribute that voice and those ideas during my time on the board.
NYFA: Could you tell us a little bit about the project you are currently working on?
DS: The project I’m currently working on is Slave Rebellion Reenactment. It will restage and reinterpret Louisiana’s German Coast Uprising of 1811. This uprising was the largest rebellion of enslaved people in American history. The reenactment will animate a hidden history of people with an audacious plan to take up arms to fight for their emancipation. The performance will involve hundreds of re-enactors, period specific uniforms of the enslaved rebels as well as clothing of the slave owners, horses and armaments. It will be reenacted on the outskirts of New Orleans where the 1811 revolt happened. Slave rebellions were clandestinely organized by small groups of individuals. Mirroring this structure, an integral part of the artwork will be organizing meetings of multiple small groupings of participants.
NYFA: Do you have any advice you would like to give an emerging artist?
DS: The advice I’d have for emerging artists is to make great art and don’t get too swayed or caught up in the art market. The critical center of the art world at the moment is too dominated by the commercial side of the art world. While I think it is fine to sell art and think that art dealers are important partners, art is about aesthetics and ideas. The influence of the art market wants to make everything into a commodity and this tends to drain much of what is actually important out of the art. Finally, life is long and art trends are short. Make art, and a commitment to be engaged, for the long haul.
– Chris Messer, Executive Assistant
Images, from top: Photo courtesy of Dread Scott; Dread Scott; Dread Scott, On the Impossibility of Freedom in a Country Founded on Slavery and Genocide, performance still 2, 2014, Courtesy of the artist, Photograph: Mark Von Holden Photography, Project produced by More Art; Dread Scott, IMAGINE A WORLD WITHOUT AMERICA, Courtesy of the artist; Dread Scott: Decisions, Courtesy of the artist.