Dread Scott: Conversation & Flag Raising

On Saturday November 5th, 2pm, The Contemporary Art Center (900 Camp Street) will host Antenna::Spillway‘s Resident artist, Dread Scott, in conversation with activist and community organizer Angela Kinlaw, on race, police brutality, and art. The event will be followed by a flag raising of Dread Scott’s A Man Was Lynched By Police Yesterday.

Following presentations at Jack Shainman GalleryMoberg GalleryAfrican American Museum in PhiladelphiaRush Arts Philadelphia, and Rhoades College, the Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans has chosen to fly Dread Scott’s flag, entitled A Man Was Lynched By Police Yesterday, as an acknowledgement of lives being taken in our communities, as an invitation to a public dialogue, and as a sign of hope that history can be articulated, transcended, and put in the service of education and healing.

During this conversation, Scott and Kinlaw will discuss the violent consequences of an unresolved history of race relations that have largely defined the past decade of public discourse in America and the ways in which art can be used a tool for mediation and racial reconciliation.


“In 2015, Walter Scott fled for his life, stalked by a policeman who then cold bloodedly shot him in the back. We all saw the video and in response to this murder I made the artwork, A Man Was Lynched by Police Yesterday. This simple banner, printed with the eponymous words, is an update of an iconic flag that the NAACP flew from their national headquarters window in New York in the nineteen-twenties and thirties the day after someone was lynched. It read simply: A Man Was Lynched Yesterday and was part of their anti-lynching campaign—a national effort to end that scourge.


During the Jim Crow era, Black people were terrorized by lynching—an often public, and publicized, legal torture and murder of Black people. It was a threat that hung over all Black people who knew that for any reason or no reason whatsoever we could be killed and the killers would never be brought to justice. Now the police are playing the same role of terror that lynch mobs did at the turn of the century. It is a threat that hangs over all Black people, that we can be killed by the police for no reason whatsoever; for a traffic stop, for selling CDs, for selling cigarettes. Shot to death, choked to death, taser-ed to death. Standing still, fleeing. Shot in the chest, shot in the back. Hands up, hands down. Point blank range or at a distance. And the police never face justice for their crimes. Like lynchers in the Jim Crow era, there can be eye witnesses, and now even video evidence, and yet the police get away with murder.

My art often looks at how the past sets the stage for the present but also exists in the present in new form. This artwork is an unfortunately necessary update to address a horror from the past that is haunting us in the present.

Responding to the recent police killings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, this updated flag was a last minute addition to For Freedomsat Jack Shainman Gallery in New York. It was an unusual, bold, courageous, and fitting decision for the gallery to decide to include A Man Was Lynched. The art was displayed on the outside of the gallery in a highly visible manner in a way that was evocative of the NAACP presentation. Immediately people responded and initiated a much needed wider conversation, leading to coverage in The New York Times,PBS NewsHour Magazine, Fox News, Hyperallergic, Artnet.com, and on social media.

There is an epidemic of police killing people: 1,134 stolen lives in 2015 alone. Around the country, people are deeply concerned and taking action—from determined protest shutting down streets to respected athletes, musicians and artists are making powerful statements and art. This is inspiring and needs to grow. I’m glad for A Man Was Lynched by Police Yesterday to be part of the growing dissent and ferment as people act to end police terror.”

—Dread Scott, October 2016


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. President G.H.W. Bush called his art “disgraceful” and the entire US Senate denounced this work and outlawed it when they passed legislation to “protect the flag.”

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 Morningspeaking 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.

Scott 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.


Angela Kinlaw is an educational servant leader who is passionate about serving children, families, and community through experiential learning and organizing for equity. It is her goal to support and maximize the brilliance of youth, stir up their agency, promote their health and well-being, and allow them to both find and live their purpose. By doing this, the community grows, builds, and makes collective progress.