|Thornton Dial: Lost Cows, 2001|
By Pam Paulson
Earlier this spring I took a trip with my daughter Isabelle and our friend Matt Arnett to visitThornton Dial’s exhibition at the High Museum in Atlanta and see his studio in Alabama. Dial’s incredible works were showcased in the exhibition Hard Truths/ The Art of Thornton Dial. The exhibition, which originated at the Indianapolis Museum of Art surveys twenty years of Dial’s paintings, sculptures, and drawings. The work emphasizes the strength and compassion that Dial brings to each idea. The survey brings up the difficult question of why Dial’s work has not been given the respect and notoriety it is due until now. Race, education, and class have all played a factor in the denial of Dial’s admission into the contemporary art canon. The exhibition is a resplendent manifestation of a powerful discourse on the human condition from a vantage point rarely celebrated.
|Thornton Dial: Ladies Will Stand by Their Tiger, 1991 Isabelle at the High Museum with Dial drawing.|
|Looking into Dial's studio, 2013.|
The warehouse, built by Dial’s sons, is the home of their steel patio furniture business, Dial
Metal Patterns. What was once a thriving industry has now slowed, devastated by the steep
and prolonged rise of steel prices. Dial and his sons have worked in the metal industry most
of their lives. Machines for bending, cutting, and painting , once used in the production of patio furniture now slumber. Dial’s sons Richard and Donnie explained to me during my visit that not only had they built one of the metal bending machines after seeing one in another metal shop, but they had also constructed the entire warehouse itself, having had no experience with constructing large buildings. Creativity and ingenuity run in the Dial family.
|Thornton Dial: Construction of the Victory, 1997 (Detail)|
Through making things Dial expresses his understanding of the world around him. Dial’s
|Joe Minter's yard, 2013.|
|Joe Minter's Sandy Hook tribute, 2013|
|Dial's early studio.|
|Homemade soda can bricks line the driveway at Dial's former home.|