Thornton Dial

Thornton Dial, a self-taught artist born in 1928 in Emelle, Alabama, began painting after his retirement. Dial has lived, worked, and created art in Alabama for his entire life. His principal place of employment was the Pullman Company in Bessemer, Alabama, until the company closed its doors. Dial is perhaps most well known for his 2006 exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

"I didn't have no real job, so I made a job making art." After his family laughed at his paintings, he buried them and created many of his works in secrecy.

Dial's work is more complex and sophisticated than the naive style so often associated with outsider art. Some of his works often incorporate materials such as rugs matted with paint, furniture and sculptural objects. Dial first came into the spotlight after being discovered and promoted by folk art collector Bill Arnett. Now Dial's work is stretching the borders of both folk art and modern art.

Not long ago, Dial was unaware of the formal meaning of art; yet, he recently stated in an interview, "Art ain't about paint. It ain't about canvas. It's about ideas. I have found how to get my ideas out and I won't stop. I got ten thousand left."

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