The Art of Thornton Dial

November 8, 2013-August 10, 2014

IMA Alliance Gallery

Thornton Dial Sr. (American, b. 1928), Don’t Matter How Raggly the Flag, It Still Got to Tie Us Together, 2003
Indianapolis Museum of Art, James E. Roberts Fund, Deaccession Sculpture Fund, Xenia and Irwin Miller Fund, Alice and Kirk McKinney Fund, Anonymous IV Art Fund, Henry F. and Katherine DeBoest Memorial Fund, Martha Delzell Memorial Fund, Mary V. Black Art Endowment Fund, Elizabeth S. Lawton Fine Art Fund, Emma Harter Sweetser Fund, General Endowed Art Fund, Delavan Smith Fund, General Memorial Art Fund, Deaccessioned Contemporary Art Fund, General Art Fund, Frank Curtis Springer & Irving Moxley Springer Purchase Fund, and the Mrs. Pierre F. Goodrich Endowed Art Fund, 2008.182
Photo by Stephen Pitkin, Pitkin Studio.

Thornton Dial’s art is about the hard truths of American history and the social and political issues of our world. He takes up these themes without sentimentality, often blending them with his perspective as a working-class African American from the South. His expressive large-scale wall hangings are covered in dense layers of paint and made from ordinary found objects and cast-off materials. Dial insists that the meaning of his art depends on the interpretation of its viewers. His artworks, and the titles he gives them, often point to a grim reality, but they also seem to carry hope for redemption.

About Thornton Dial

Portrait of Thornton Dial, 2002
Photo by David Raccuglia.

Dial was born in 1928 in Alabama, where he continues to live and work today. Though he had no formal art education, he remembers making things from a young age. The construction of his assemblages reflects the type of jobs he has held—including carpenter, bricklayer, house painter, and welder for a railcar manufacturing company. Working in the long-standing tradition of African American yard art, Dial ties, welds, and seals discarded materials together, giving them another life by transforming them into something new.

The Art of Thornton Dial Indianapolis Museum of Art 4000 Michigan Rd., Indianapolis, IN