No, that's not a typo in the headline. Dread Scott is an artist who creates provocative art, and his 1988 work, "What Is the Proper Way to Display the US Flag?" led to a Supreme Court decision (US v. Eichman et al; 496 U.S. 310 (1990)) that ruled his use of the Stars 'n Stripes, even to the extent of burning the flag, was protected free-speech conduct under the First Amendment.
The exhibit placed a large US flag on the floor in front of a photomontage showing the flag and expressions of anti-American sentiment. A blank journal was below the photo, inviting gallery visitors to write comments—but to do so, one would have to stand on the flag.
Of course, this upset many people, and the following year Congress passed an act outlawing desecration of "Old Glory." Scott and others, in protest, burned the flag on the steps of the Capitol Building. And that was the issue that led to the Supreme Court case.
Dread Scott likes to ask hard questions—about racism, capitalism, war, mass incarceration, and more—and his artwork is intended make people think about how to answer them:
This Labor Day weekend, Dread Scott has a retrospective exhibit of some of his works that explore civil rights issues and the criminal justice system in particular. "A Sharp Divide" will be hosted by the Rowan University Art Gallery in Glassboro, New Jersey.
I won't be there, but I hope to hear more about this show and about Scott's ongoing work. He is certainly a man who speaks right on.
America was forged by genocide and slavery and carries out profound exploitation and oppressions of whole peoples and vast regions of the planet to maintain this lopsided relationship. It doesn't have to be this way and I personally look forward to the day when America and its flag are in the dustbin of history and people are striving to build a world of freely associating human beings, free of exploitation. In this spirit I created a conceptual artwork where people could engage the question of what US patriotism and the US flag represents.Dread Scott
Never having heard of Dread Scott, thank you for sharing this. Artists are teachers in their own right and this gentleman is a powerful one! Of note in an Albuquerque Journal online article today it was described how some civil rights sites may be lost to history including a ghost town (Blackdom) that was once a thriving all-'black settlement in the New Mexico desert.-- one that I never knew existed. On the brighter side Albuquerque city officials are planning to revitalize the De Anza Motor Lodge--a motel that offered lodging to Black and Hispanic travelers along Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles during segregation.
Jeannette, thank you for sharing the info about Blackdom--I'm definitely going to learn more about that. And also for sharing about the De Anza Motor Lodge. You've inspired in me an idea for a new book--Wow!