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Thornton Dial (aka Thornton Dial, Sr.)

Thornton Dial (aka Thornton Dial, Sr.) does not have an image.

Thornton Dial

American, (1928–2016)

"Thornton Dial (1928- ) was born in Emelle, AL, one of twelve children. Dial worked primarily as a manufacturer of Rail cars at the Pullman Company for most of his life. Dial lived in Bessemer, Alabama for most of his life, starting at the age of 10 when he moved from Emelle with half-brother Arthur to live with a relative. He married Clara Mae Murrow in 1951 and they had five children. After his retirement, he began producing art. In the 1980s his work began to be sought out, and he has since had extensive exhibitions of his work, including the Whitney Biennial and a retrospective at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.
Dial met the artist Lonnie Holley, who introduced Dial to Atlanta collector and scholar William Arnett, who helped bring his work to national prominence. In a 1997 article about Dial, the New York Times mentions a show entitled ""Bearing Witness: African-American Vernacular Art of the South"" which ""was described as the first attempt in New York City to organize a comprehensive exhibition of contemporary black 'vernacular art. ' In the article, Dial is described as an artist who ""can barely read and write"" but who friends describe as ""smart as a fox"" and good at math, with an ability to accurately estimate the size of a canvas by eye. The racial and prejudicial issues surrounding Dial’s ethnicity and perceived place in the ‘art world’ often obfuscate and overshadow his work. He is a controversial figure because he is a black artist in the south and from the era of Jim Crow. Dial’s work is often inseparable from him as an artist.
He works with assemblages, paintings, drawings and sculptures. Dial is an African-American who has lived his entire life in the south, and this experience informs his work. In his art narratives emerge like folk tales of personal, political, and spiritual stories which are based in African and American traditions. The racial tensions and realities that exist in the South are manifest in his work. His art has still not been exhibited in his home state of Alabama. During the era of Jim Crow, Dial would hide the objects he made and assembled in his back yard, as to not attract undesirable attention or interest in what he was creating." [Source: unknown and currently being researched]

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