THORNTON DIAL, SR. Thornton Dial, Sr. Main < BACK

Thornton Dial, Sr. was born in Emmel, Alabama, and lives in Bessemer, Alabama. He is the patriarch of a clan of highly talented artists and is a painter-sculptor who has produced dramatic and colorful works of art. Dial has always been a jack-of-all-trades; a carpenter, a house painter, a cement mixer, and an ironworker. For almost thirty years, he worked on-and-off for the Pullman Standard Company in Bessemer, Alabama, which is known for its railroad cars. During periods of unemployment, he worked for the Bessemer Water Works fixing broken pipes under the streets. Today, when he is not making art, Dial raises turkeys and is in business with his sons making wrought iron patio furniture.

Thornton Dial has deep convictions concerning racial relationships in this country and he expresses this through his artwork. His assemblages represent relationships between the races and between men and women. One of his underlying and recurring themes is the struggle of blacks in society, as well as God's concern for mankind. He deals with these themes as fables and relates them through assemblages and paintings. Sometimes his fables are very complex and include animal symbols as well as human forms. Dial paints and sculpts, using bold colors, His sculptures are made from materials that he collects, pieces of tin that he cuts into shapes, tree roots, wood, bottles, carpet, and plastic.



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