“The analogy Mr. Dial constructed around his life, both as an artist and as an inheritor of the unfinished business of civil rights and the fight for human dignity in the United States and the world, was part of a complex, nuanced view of past and present: ‘That’s life . . . I love to think about what the mule could do. Sometimes he falls dead, but he still tried to do it. Mules do the same thing that men do. That’s life goes on. . . . The mule turns up stuff and reburies it. . . . I don’t care if you’re old or young, but that’s our whole life there, because as the mule pulls you’re going to find some art somewhere in the world.'”
Department Chair Bernie Herman recently reflected on Southern artist Thornton Dial’s life and body of work in Artforum. Dial passed away in late January. Herman edited Thornton Dial: Thoughts on Paper, published in 2012 by UNC Press.