Thornton Dial, Sr.
Life Begin at the Tail
30 x 44 1/4 in. (76.2 x 112.4 cm)
Medium and Support:
Pastel and charcoal on paper
Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts Association Purchase
© Estate of Thornton Dial / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Thornton Dial, Sr. is an artist who has spent his life in Bessemer, Alabama. From childhood, Dial created what he calls "things," random assemblages of found materials. However, he did not seriously focus on art making until he became unemployed at the age of 55 after a thirty-year career as a steelworker for the Pullman Standard Company, a manufacturer of railroad cars.
Dial's body of work encompasses drawings, paintings, and found-object assemblages that address political and social issues as well as his experiences of the American South.
"Life Begin at the Tail" incorporates many of Dial's personal symbols including the large tiger that occupies the center of the image. For Dial, tigers often represent the struggles of African-American men and the tenacity and toughness required to face their historical struggles. Dial also featured female figures in many of his drawings; here he tucks one into the curve of the tiger's tail.