Lady Holds the Bird While the Bird Spreads His Wings
© Estate of Thornton Dial / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Abstract bird figure with a face at upper right.
Thornton Dial is a self-taught artist who only began seriously making art after his retirement. He began with figurative sculptures, then branched out to painting and mixed-media assemblages. Working largely outside the context of mainstream art, Dial’s work is reminiscent of folk tales, combining African and American traditions to tell stories that are at once personal, political and spiritual. Building upon work like this, the Museum is able to contextualize similarly motivated art; for example, the exhibition Social Geographies includes Dial’s large scale sculpture.
Exhibition Title: Collectors' Circle Exhibition
Label Date: 12/22/2015-02/14/2016
Type: Chat label
A self-taught artist working in Bessemer, AL, Dial began making art seriously after retiring from his metalworking job at the Pullman Standard Plant. In the late 1980s he started constructing figurative sculptures, then branched out to painting and mixed-media assemblage. Dial’s art combines African and American traditions to tell stories that are personal, political, and spiritual. Lady Holds the Bird While the Bird Spreads His Wings is an excellent example of the power and insight found in Dial’s work. In interviews with William Arnett in 1995 and 1996, Dial described his art as “mostly about freedom.” With that context, one might wonder whether the woman holds the bird to nurture it while it learns to spread it wings in newfound independence, or if she prevents it from flying to freedom.
Exhibition Title: Asheville Art Museum: An Introduction to the Collection
Label Date: 2021
Type: Catalogue Entry
Written by: Cindy Buckner
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