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Michelle Coffey & Dread Scott In Conversation

June 26, 2024

Michelle Coffey & Dread Scott In Conversation

We were pleased to honor our long standing partners—artist Dread Scott and Executive Director of the Lambent Foundation, Michelle Coffey—at our Twentieth Anniversary Gala with the 2024 Achievement Award. As part of the evening, we invited Dread and Michelle to have a conversation in which they spoke on the meaning of “integrity” in artistic practice, and what it takes as artists and arts funders to put one’s body and career on the line in service of social justice.

Watch a recording of their full conversation and read more about Dread & Michelle’s practices below.



Dread Scott

Through his practice striving to “propel history forward,” Dread Scott embodies disruptive, captivating principles to push conceptual boundaries and question societal conventions. He creates works in multiple mediums to be viewed within traditional structures and in accessible public functions. We are honored to have collaborated and supported his groundbreaking work for over 10 years.

Dread Scott, On the Impossibility of Freedom in a Country Founded on Slavery and Genocide, 2014. © Mark Von Holden / Mark Von Holden Photography

In 2014, we collaborated with Dread to produce On the Impossibility of Freedom in a Country Founded on Slavery and Genocide, a powerful performance piece engaging with the legacy of racism in the United States and pointing to the continuing struggles faced by minorities across the nation. Click here to learn more about the project and read on for more about Dread’s work!

Dread Scott is a visual artist whose works is exhibited across the US and internationally. In 1989, his art became the center of national controversy over its transgressive use of the American flag, while he was a student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Dread became part of a landmark Supreme Court case when he and others defied a federal law outlawing his art by burning flags on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. He has presented at TED talk on this.

He presented the All African People’s Consulate as part of La Biennale di Venezia in 2024. His work has been included in exhibitions at MoMA PS1, the Walker Art Center, Cristin Tierney Gallery and is in the collection of the Whitney Museum, The National Gallery of Art, and The Metropolatin Museum of Art. He is a 2023 Rome Prize Fellow and has also received fellowships form John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, Open Society Foundations and United States Artists as well as a Creative Capital grant.In 2019 he presented Slave Rebellion Reenactment, a community engaged project that reenacted the largest rebellion of enslaved people in US history. The project was featured in Vanity Fair, The New York Times, Christiane Amanpour on CNN and highlighted by Artnet as one of the most important artworks of the decade.


Michelle Coffey

For our 10th anniversary in 2014, we added a philanthropic award to honor a member of the professional community who has made a palpable and substantial difference in society. On our 20th anniversary, we are pleased to honor Michelle Coffey, who has provided More Art with invaluable strategic guidance and feedback that allows us to support artists with confidence and vision through a specific understanding of More Art’s mission.

Her dedication to welcoming uncertainty and valuing emergent ideas has led the Lambent Foundation to explore the connections between contemporary art and transformative social change. It has been gratifying to find a partner that approaches values and guiding principles with a similar ethos. We are honored to have partnered with and been supported by Michelle for so many years. Read on for more about Michelle’s work!


Left to right: Mabel O. Wilson, Michelle Coffey, and Kendall Henry during “Of Manacles and Monuments Act 1: History, Monuments, and Reframing the Narrative,” a conversation series presented by More Art and the Center for Brooklyn History, 2023. Photo by Wenjun Chen.


Michelle Coffey leads the strategy and drives the vision of Lambent Foundation while mindfully honoring complexity. By nurturing emergent ideas and welcoming uncertainty, Michelle works as an advocate and partner to imagine and build more just and equitable societies.

While working at the Walker Art Center during the 1990s American culture wars, Michelle learned to fuse her work with her personal and political values and respect the interconnections between art, location, and community. Michelle has built on her background in human rights advocacy and philanthropy to develop Lambent’s approach. She served as Director of Starry Night Fund and Senior Philanthropic Advisor at Tides Foundation. Her portfolio spanned global human rights, women and girls, criminal justice reform, arts and culture, and HIV/AIDS. This challenging work alerted Michelle to the vital role of arts and culture in progressive movements. Michelle serves on several national boards, including Grantmakers in the Arts, The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, and Socrates Sculpture Park.