Thornton Dial, a child of Alabama sharecroppers, created assemblage art in relative obscurity for decades. He only began working on paper around 1990 at the time of his first museum exhibition. Art historian William Arnett, who documented the work of African American artists in the South, provided Dial with professional art making materials, and enabled him to exhibit his work in major institutions. Dial embraced new opportunities, whether traditionally associated with the fine arts or not: “Art is like a bright star up ahead in the darkness of the world. It can lead peoples through the darkness and help them from being afraid of the darkness. Art is a guide for every person who is looking for something. That’s how I can describe myself: Mr. Dial is a man looking for something.”
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