“The Old Water” (2004) by Thornton Dial Sr.

 
On View presents images from noteworthy exhibitions

THORTON DIAL SR. (1928-2016), made symbolic mixed-media paintings and sculptural assemblage works with profound titles. “The Last Day of Martin Luther King” (1992), references the civil rights leader’s assassination, a moment of national tragedy, sadness, and mourning, and an inflection point in American race relations. “High and Wide (Carrying the Rats to the Man)” (2002) depicts a slave ship in troubled waters. “The Old Water” (2004) raises issues of equal opportunity and government accountability. All three works by Dial, who was born, lived, worked and died in Alabama, are on view in “Souls Grown Deep: Artists of the African American South.” The exhibition features 24 works by African American artists from the southeastern United States, spanning generations, expressing themselves through variety of mediums. Exploring themes such as racism, violence, social and economic injustice, religion, and community and family traditions, the works were acquired by the Philadelphia Museum of Art in January, through a gift/purchase arrangement, from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation in Atlanta. The collection includes 15 quilts dating from the 1920s to the early 2000s by women associated with Gee’s Bend, Rehoboth, and Alberta, Ala. The other works in the show were made between 1985 and 2004: assemblages by Lonnie Holley, Ronald Lockett, and Hawkins Bolden; a root sculpture by Bessie Harvey; and the trio of works by Dial. CT

 

“Souls Grown Deep: Artists of the African American South” at Philadelphia Museum of Art, June 8-Sept. 2, 2019

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Installation view of “Souls Grown Deep: Artists of the African American South” at Philadelphia Museum of Art, June 8-Sept. 2, 2019

 


THORNTON DIAL SR., “The Last Day of Martin Luther King,” 1992 (wood, carpet, rope carpet, wire screen, metal pans, broken glass, broom, mop cords, cloth, string, enamel, and Splash Zone compound on canvas on wood, 6 feet 8 inches × 9 feet 5 1/2 inches × 4 1/2 inches). | © Estate of Thornton Dial/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo by Gamma One Conversions. Purchased with the George W. Elkins fund, and gift of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation from the William S. Arnett Collection, 2017. Image courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2019

 


DELIA BENNETT (American, 1892–1976), “Housetop Quilt-Fractured-Medallion Variation,” circa 1955 (cotton, 79 × 79 inches). | © Estate of Delia Bennett/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Philadelphia Museum of Art, museum purchase, and gift of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation from the William S. Arnett Collection, 2017. Photo by Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio/Art Resource (AR), New York

 


BESSIE HARVEY,”Jezebel,” 1987 (wood, jewelry, shells, glitter, beads, nails, paint, spray paint, 50 1/2 × 44 1/2 × 34 inches). | © Estate of Bessie Harvey/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Ron Lee/The Silver Factory. Purchased with the African American Art fund, and gift of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation from the William S. Arnett Collection, 2017. Image courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2019

 


Installation view of “Souls Grown Deep: Artists of the African American South” at Philadelphia Museum of Art, June 8-Sept. 2, 2019

 


HAWKINS BOLDEN, “Untitled,” circa 1985 (wood headboard, found metal objects, wire fencing, upholstery, fabric, and foam backing, 41 × 33 × 5 inches). | © Estate of Hawkins Bolden/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo by Ron Lee/The Silver Factory. Purchased with the African American Art fund, and gift of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation from the William S. Arnett Collection, 2017. Image courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2019

 


THORNTON DIAL SR., “High and Wide (Carrying the Rats to the Man),” 2002 (goat hides, carpet, found metal, clothing, stuffed-animal backpack, barbed wire, upholstery, textbook cover, Splash Zone compound, enamel, and spray paint on canvas on wood, 6 feet 4 inches × 11 feet 2 inches × 13 inches). | © Estate of Thornton Dial/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo by Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio/Art Resource (AR), New York. Purchased with the McNeil Acquisition Fund for American Art and Material Culture, and gift of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation from the William S. Arnett Collection, 2017. Image courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2019

 


Installation view of “Souls Grown Deep: Artists of the African American South” at Philadelphia Museum of Art, June 8-Sept. 2, 2019

 


RONALD LOCKETT, “Timothy,” 1995 (found sheet metal, tin, wire, paint, and nails on wood, 45 × 43 1/4 × 3 inches). | © Estate of Ronald Lockett/ Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo by Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio/ Art Resource (AR), New York. Purchased with the Thomas Skelton Harrison fund, and gift of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation from the William S. Arnett Collection, 2017. Image courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2019

 


MARY LEE BENDOLPH, “Blocks, Strips, Strings, and Half Squares,” 2005 (pieced cotton plain weave, twill, corduroy, nylon twill, and cellulose acetate knit, 7 feet × 6 feet 9 inches). | © Estate of Mary Lee Bendolph/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo by Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio/Art Resource (AR), New York. Purchased with the Phoebe W. Haas fund for Costume and Textiles, and gift of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation from the William S. Arnett Collection, 2017. Image courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2019

 


LONNIE HOLLEY, “Protecting Myself the Best I can (Weapons by the Door),” 1994 (terra-cotta pipe, golf club, baseball bats, metal pipe, clothespins, and tape, 35 × 16 × 16 inches). | © Lonnie Holley/ Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo by Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio/Art Resource (AR), New York. Purchased with the African American Art fund, and gift of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation from the William S. Arnett Collection, 2017. Image courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2019

 


Installation view of “Souls Grown Deep: Artists of the African American South” at Philadelphia Museum of Art, June 8-Sept. 2, 2019

 


LONNIE HOLLEY, “No Light on the Crosses,” 1994 (wood, metal fencing, headlight, ceramic lamp, electrical cords, ice cream scooper, metal drain cover, wire, drill bit, rope, drum head, 6 feet 11 inches × 43 inches × 23 inches). | © Lonnie Holley/ Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo by Ron Lee/The Silver Factory. Purchased with the African American Art fund, and gift of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation from the William S. Arnett Collection, 2017. Image courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2019

 


MARY LEE BENDOLPH, “Work-Clothes Quilt,” 2002 (pieced and hand-quilted cotton plain weave and denim twill, 7 feet 4 inches × 6 feet 2 inches). | © Estate of Mary Lee Bendolph/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Purchased with the Phoebe W. Haas Fund for Costume and Textiles, and gift of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation from the William S. Arnett Collection, 2017. Image courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2019

 


Installation view of “Souls Grown Deep: Artists of the African American South” at Philadelphia Museum of Art, June 8-Sept. 2, 2019. Shown, “The Old Water” (2004) by Thornton Dial Sr., surrounded by quilt works from Gee’s Bend

 

TOP IMAGE: THORNTON DIAL SR., “The Old Water,” 2004 (steel, tin, wood, wire, cloth, carpet, driftwood, wood trellis, barbed wire, enamel, spray paint, and Splash Zone compound, 7 feet × 12 feet 2 1/2 inches × 44 inches). | © Estate of Thornton Dial/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo by Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio/Art Resource (AR), New York. Purchased with the McNeil Acquisition Fund for American Art and Material Culture, and gift of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation from the William S. Arnett Collection, 2017. Image courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2019

 

BOOKSHELF
Souls Grown Deep has documented the work of African American artists from the South in two hefty tomes. The first volume “Souls Grown Deep: African American Vernacular Art” features 40 artists. Volume II offers a broader scope of the genre. “Something to Take My Place: The Art of Lonnie Holley” was recently published. Featuring 110 color illustrations “The Quilts of Gee’s Bend” accompanied the traveling exhibition. More recent books about the quilters are for children, “Stitchin’ and Pullin’: A Gee’s Bend Quilt” and published more recently “The Quilts of Gee’s Bend.”

 

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