Thornton Dial Exhibit
The Virginia Union University Museum Galleries, in addition to a permanent exhibit of African and Oceanic art, are currently featuring the art work of African American folk artist Thornton Dial. The exhibit, made possible through the generous donation of Dr. and Mrs. James Sellman, features watercolors, oil paintings and three dimensional pieces by this important vernacular artist:
Dial is a self taught artist. He was born in rural Alabama in 1928. After the third grade, he left school to work jobs such as digging sweet potatoes and working at a local ice house. As a young teenager, he moved to highly industrialized Bessemer, Alabama.
Dial worked for thirty-three years at the Pullman-Standard Company. He also worked many other jobs such as painting and building houses, laying bricks, cementing sections of highways, relining tin, pouring iron, and fishing commercially.
Dial employs bright colors, spontaneity of line, and humor in all of his works. He works not only in paint, but utilizes found-objects such as electric wires, screens, rope, plywood, and carpets. In addition to painting, Dial uses his talent to build his own houses, make fishing lures, create wooden crosses and cement urns, and decorate his yard with lively constructions.