The Colby College Museum of Art and its Lunder Institute for American Art presented this virtual conversation between Dread Scott, Lunder Institute Senior Fellow, and artist Maria Gaspar, moderated by Gabriel Chalfin-Piney, Lunder Institute manager of programs.
Art, Ethics, and Process focused on the community performance works of Dread Scott and Maria Gaspar, exploring the ethics and material qualities of their collaborative making. What are the ethics of bringing work with communities into the art world? How does each build and literally make their work into something that can be seen, experienced, or felt? What does art do that political activism and community organizing do not?
This conversation took place on the occasion of Dread Scott’s year-long fellowship with the Lunder Institute for American Art.
The Lunder Institute for American Art’s programs in 2021–2022, including Dread Scott’s Senior Fellowship, are made possible through the support of the Lunder Foundation, Peter and Paula Lunder Family, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Ossorio Foundation, Alice Kang P’21 and OhSang Kwon P’21, the Oak Institute for Human Rights, and the Buck Lab for Climate and Environment.
Dread Scott makes revolutionary art to propel history forward. His work is exhibited across the United States and internationally. In 1989, while he was a student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, his art became the center of national controversy over its transgressive use of the American flag. President George H. W. Bush called his art “disgraceful,” and the entire US Senate denounced and outlawed this work. He became part of a landmark Supreme Court case when he and others defied the new law by burning flags on the steps of the US Capitol. Scott’s work has been included in exhibitions at New York’s MoMA PS1, the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Jack Shainman Gallery, New York; and Gallery MOMO, Cape Town, South Africa. His performance work has been presented at BAM in Brooklyn and on the streets of Harlem, New York. His work is in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Brooklyn Museum. It has been featured on the cover of Artforum magazine and in Vanity Fair. The New York Times selected his art as one of “The 25 Most Influential Works of American Protest Art since World War II.” He is a 2021 John Simon Guggenheim Fellow, recipient of the 2021 Public Art Dialogue (PAD) Award for achievement in the field of public art and the inaugural Frieze Impact Prize, in partnership with the Art for Justice Fund, also in 2021, recipient of the Creative Capital Grant, and has received fellowships from Open Society Foundations and United States Artists. He works in a range of media from performance, photography, and video to screen-printing and installation.
Maria Gaspar is an interdisciplinary artist whose work addresses issues of spatial justice in order to amplify, mobilize, or divert structures of power through individual and collective gestures. Gaspar’s projects have been supported by the Art for Justice Fund, the Robert Rauschenberg Artist as Activist Fellowship, the Creative Capital Award, the Joan Mitchell Emerging Artist Grant, and the Art Matters Foundation. She has received the United States Artists Fellowship, the Frieze Impact Prize, the Sor Juana Women of Achievement Award in Art and Activism from the National Museum of Mexican Art, and the Chamberlain Award for Social Practice from the Headlands Center for the Arts. Gaspar has exhibited extensively at venues including MoMA PS1, New York; the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston; and the African American Museum, Philadelphia. She is an associate professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, holds a master of fine arts in Studio Arts from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and a bachelor of fine arts from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York.