Great U.S. Turkey by Thornton Dial


Great U.S. Turkey
Oil on canvas
20 x 30 inches

American artist Thorton Dial is self-taught and began making pieces of artwork at an early age. His work, along with that of other untrained African American artists, is often referred to as belonging to the “Outsiders.” Dial’s work is about the struggle for freedom, and the lack of it. He often uses the tiger as a symbol for the struggles of life and his respect for women is apparent by his recurring use of them in many of his paintings. “Women are the creation of the world…they give love and care, and they also give strength and power.” Dial began working when he dropped out of school at the third grade. Many of the skills he uses in his work were learned while holding a variety of jobs in factories in his hometown of Bessemer, Alabama. Dial learned many skills, principally as a welder’s assistant, at the Pullman Standard railroad-car factory. The Dial family, including his cousins and his own children, produces art that reflects the influence of the industries for which they worked and the many struggles black society has encountered on the road to equality.

*Currently not on view.