Grinnell, Iowa - “Dark Commander: The Art of John Scott” will open in the Faulconer Gallery at Grinnell College on Friday, Oct. 10. A conversation with the artist and Faulconer Gallery curator Daniel Strong will take place in the Gallery at 4:15 p.m. and the opening reception will follow at 5 p.m.

This retrospective will be the first exhibition in the United States for Scott, who received the prestigious Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts, Canada's highest arts honor, in 2000.

The exhibition reveals Scott's lifelong fascination with machines as it evolved from his working-class roots in Windsor, Ontario, just across the Ambassador Bridge from Detroit, through an era that has seen both rapid technological innovation and almost continuous high-tech warfare.

For 40 years, Scott has remained consistent and eerily prescient in raw-edged drawings and found-object installations that plot a vector from the optimism of NASA to the voyeurism of the NSA. "If you look at his work from the 1980s and ’90s, much of it could be made next year," Strong says.

Scott’s hard-edged work is influenced by artists as diverse as the Spaniard Francisco Goya (1746-1828) and the German Expressionists of the early 20th century. Goya and German Expressionists are well represented in the Grinnell College Art Collection. One of the icons of Scott's work, the inspiration for the exhibition's title, is the "Dark Commander," an oversized and imperious Napoleonic figure that recurs in his work along side anxiety-driven bunny-men, jet fighters and hybridized motorcycles, one of which has been borrowed from Scott's hometown museum, the Art Gallery of Windsor.

The exhibition coincides with a campus-wide focus on the centenary of World War I, "A Century of War: 1914 and Beyond," sponsored by the College's Center for the Humanities.

“Dark Commander: The Art of John Scott” is open through Dec. 14. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, and admission is free.

Faulconer Gallery is located in the Bucksbaum Center for the Arts at 1108 Park St., Grinnell. For more information about the exhibitions and related programs, call 641-269-4660 or visit Information on parking and accessibility is available on the college website. Accommodation requests may be made to Conference Operations at 641-269-3235 or

About Grinnell College

Since its founding in 1846, Grinnell has become one of the nation's premier liberal arts colleges, enrolling 1,600 students from all 50 states and from as many countries. Grinnell's rigorous academic program emphasizes excellence in education for students in the liberal arts; the college offers the B.A. degree in a range of departments across the humanities, arts and sciences. Grinnell has a strong tradition of social responsibility and action, and self-governance and personal responsibility are key components of campus life. More information about Grinnell College is available at

Photos and Cutlines

Photo: Dark Commander

John Scott

“Dark Commander,” 2008

Mixed media on paper

Collection of Ted L. and Maryanne Ellison Simmons, St. Louis


Photo: Avatar

John Scott

“Avatar (the deathless boy)," 1996

Altered motorcycle, found objects

Collection of the Art Gallery of Windsor, gift of Chris Poulson, 2001

Photograph by Frank Piccolo