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WMA presents I, Too, Am Thornton Dial

WMA presents “I, Too, Am Thornton Dial”

Above: Image: Thornton Dial, Sr. American, 1928 – 2016, Counting Birds, n.d., Mixed media on paper, 39 1/2 x 27 1/2 inches, Estate of Thornton Dial, © Estate ofThornton Dial/ Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


Melissa Rea
Director of Advancement, WMA


DOTHAN, Alabama – December 9, 2022 — The Wiregrass Museum of Art (WMA) will present “I, Too, Am Thornton Dial”, to open at Art After Hours on Thursday, January 19, 2023. The exhibition of works by the late Thornton Dial, Sr. is a partnership with the Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts at UAB and the Samford University Art Gallery, and will be on view until March 25, 2023. 

Curated by Paul Barrett, the presentation at WMA focuses on Dial’s works on paper. Although works on paper are sometimes dismissed, this exhibition makes the case that Dial’s drawings are as significant to his practice as his monumental assemblages, and powerful in their own right. The exhibition draws on loans from the Dial family, and private collections, with many works only recently exhibited for the first time.

“The Wiregrass Museum of Art consistently presents compelling artists and exhibitions,” said Paul Barrett, exhibition curator. “Just as Mr. Dial created a significant body of work in Alabama for years while community support went to artists from larger cities or out of state, the Wiregrass Museum of Art creates high-quality programming to engage their community year after year and has earned my respect. It’s a pleasure to work with them again and to bring Mr. Dial’s work to a new audience.”

IMAGE CREDIT//Jerry Siegel / Thornton Dial, McCalla, Alabama, 2007 / Archival inkjet print / Courtesy of the artist / ©️ Jerry Siegel

Thornton Dial Sr. (1928-2016) is one of Alabama’s most critically acclaimed artists, and his works can be found in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the High Museum of Art, the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, and the Birmingham Museum of Art and numerous other important institutions. Dial’s work was the subject of solo exhibitions at the American Folk Art Museum; the New Museum; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Indianapolis Museum of Art; New Orleans Museum of Art; Mint Museum; and the High Museum of Art. A catalog featuring new essays and many artworks never presented to the public will be available at the opening reception. 

WMA’s exhibition follows two recent exhibitions in 2022 of Dial’s work that bring deserved attention to the artist within his home state, including “I, Too, Am Alabama”, a retrospective of masterworks spanning Dial’s entire career including sculpture, works on paper, and assemblages at the Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts at UAB. 

WMA will also present public programs to enhance museum visitors’ understanding of Thornton Dial’s place within the cultural tapestry of American art. On Saturday, February 4th, WMA will present a gallery talk with Paul Barrett, the exhibition curator, followed by a film screening of the 2007 documentary “Mr. Dial Has Something to Say”, which tells the dramatic story of Thornton Dial’s experiences. The gallery talk will be at 1pm, with the film screening at 1:45pm within the museum’s galleries. 

On March 2 at 6pm, WMA will present a virtual talk with Richard Dial, Thornton Dial, Sr.’s son, and Alabama artist Jakob Dwight. Moderated by exhibition curator Paul Barrett, the discussion will focus on how these two Alabama artists worked through their respective health crises and went on to create some of their most poignant works. Participants can register for the virtual talk at wiregrassmuseum.org/visiting-artist-series/. There is no cost for this virtual talk, but registration is required. 

“As we celebrate WMA’s 35th anniversary year, we will continue to highlight the work of exemplary Alabama artists, including the work of Thornton Dial. The museum is committed to elevating the rich cultural tapestry of our State’s artistic contributions and we’re proud to bring this exhibition to the Wiregrass community,” said Dana-Marie Lemmer, WMA’s executive director and curator. 

The exhibition will open during Art After Hours on Thursday, January 19th, from 5:30 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. Admission is free for members, and $5 for not-yet members. Art After Hours will offer a cash bar, artmaking stations, and live music.

For more information about WMA’s annual arts programming, visit wiregrassmuseum.org, or call 334-794-3871.

About the Wiregrass Museum of Art

Wiregrass Museum of Art inspires a lifelong appreciation for the visual arts by providing innovative educational programs that engage diverse audiences through the collection and exhibition of quality works. Since its inception in 1987, WMA has offered educational programs, nationally-acclaimed art exhibitions and community events throughout the year. Its Board of Trustees guides the long-term vision and strategic goals, while its membership, City and County support, and grant funding provide the resources needed to fulfill its mission.

WMA’s galleries are open to the public every Wednesday through Friday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. General admission is always free.

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