Explore CollectionsFolk and Self-Taught ArtThornton Dial

Thornton Dial

Thornton Dial, Sr. (American, 1928–2016), Crossing Waters, 2006–2011, wire fencing, clothing, cloth, wood, metal, corrugated tin, shoe, ceramic figurines, and paint on canvas on wood, Museum purchase, and gift of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation from the William S. Arnett Collection, 2017.42.

Thornton Dial spent thirty years working in the Pullman Steel Plant in Bessemer, Alabama, an experience that influenced his methods and materials as an artist. In the 1980s, after the plant closed and he met the Atlanta-based collector William S. Arnett, he embarked upon a period of profound artistic creation that lasted nearly three decades. Dial depended on discarded objects and the stories they carried with them to create grand narratives about oppression, resilience, and rebirth in the United States. The High has been collecting Dial’s painted multimedia assemblages since the 1990s, and in 2017, a major acquisition partnership with the Souls Grown Deep Foundation made these holdings the largest and most significant collection of the artist’s work.

Katherine “Katie” Jentleson

Katherine Jentleson

Senior Curator of American Art and
Merrie and Dan Boone Curator of Folk and Self-Taught Art