Museum PR Announcements News and Information

Indianapolis Museum of Art Opens Thornton Dial Exhibition

The Indianapolis Museum of Art has opened an exhibition of the work of Thornton Dial on view through May 15, 2011.

Thornton Dial, High and Wide (Carrying the Rats to the Man), 2002. Goat hides, carpet, found metal, clothing, stuffed-animal backpack, barbed wire, upholstery, textbook cover, Splash Zone compound, enamel, and spray paint on canvas on wood. Collection of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation, 76 x 134 x 13.

Hard Truths: The Art of Thornton Dial includes 70 paintings, drawings, and sculptural works as it surveys two decades of the artist’s career. Highlights of the exhibition include the 1992 work “The Last Day of Martin Luther King,” which examines the life, death and transformative message of the assassinated political leader, and “Victory in Iraq” from 2004, a ten-foot canvas that incorporates barbed wire and iconic symbols of America’s role in world conflict. Additionally, a Dial work recently acquired by the IMA will be on view in the exhibition—“Don’t Matter How Raggly the Flag, It Still Got To Tie Us Together,” which dates from 2003 and evokes the image of a torn and ravaged American flag that nevertheless serves to unite us. The earliest work included in the exhibition will be the 1991 drawing “Refugees in Love.” Among the show’s many recent works is the 2009 piece “Turtle Holding Flag,” which celebrates President Obama’s inauguration.

Thornton Dial (born 1928, in Emelle, Alabama) is an artist who came to prominence in the United States in the late 1980s. He was one of 12 children and grew up poor and without his father’s presence in the family, and this poverty led him and his siblings to create toys from the discarded objects around them.[1] 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.
Dial has lived, worked, and created art in Alabama for his entire life. His principal place of employment was the Pullman Company in Bessemer, Alabama, until the company closed its doors.

Dial has had many important solo and group shows since his discovery by the art world. 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.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *