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Green Pastures: The Birds that Didn’t Learn How to Fly

Folk and Self-Taught Art

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Green Pastures: The Birds that Didn’t Learn How to Fly

Artwork Details


Thornton Dial, Sr.
American, 1928–2016




Cloth rags, rubber-coated copper wire, wire, screws, and enamel paint on canvas on wood

Accession #



69 1/2 x 95 1/2 x 3 inches


Currently Not on View


This painting is one in a series made by Thornton Dial that features hanging blackbirds. Made from the artist’s used paint rags, the creatures are a parody of Jim Crow, the racist designation for Black people that was applied to institutionalized segregation. Subtitled The Birds That Didn’t Learn How to Fly, this work hints at lynching and the terror it once visited on Blacks in the South. The work is ironically titled Green Pastures, a biblical reference to a promised land of abundance beyond this life of suffering and hardship.


Gift of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation from their William S. Arnett Collection

Image Copyright

© Estate of Thornton Dial/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York