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"Anyone Can Move a Mountain", curated by Paul Barrett. image: Jerry Siegel, "Thornton Dial, McCalla, AL" (detail), 2007"Anyone Can Move a Mountain", curated by Paul Barrett. image: Jerry Siegel, "Thornton Dial, McCalla, AL" (detail), 2007

August 19 - September 24, 2022

 

Anyone Can Move a Mountain

 

Michaela Pilar Brown

Richard Dial

Jakob Dwight

Roscoe Hall

Shaun Leonardo

Umar Rashid

Jerry Siegel

Leslie Smith III

and Renée Stout

 

curated by Paul Barrett

 

 

 

 

"We are not makers of history. We are made by history..

- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “Strength To Love”, published by Harper & Row, 1963



History is subjective. Art, even more so. It was with this in mind that I invited artists from across the United States to write about the works of Thornton Dial. Anyone Can Move a Mountain brings together a range of artists who contributed their reactions to Dial's work, and how they relate to it through their own work. The proof of concept - why I selected these artists - became the catalyst for this project.

Much has been written about Mr. Dial's work, including significant historical publications by Paul Arnett and his father, Bill, who championed many Alabama artists' work for decades before those artists had an appreciative audience at home. The challenge then became to create a new publication that would add to an already rich body of writing. Alongside essays by scholars and art-historians, I asked Michaela Pilar Brown, Richard Dial, Jakob Dwight, Roscoe Hall, Shaun Leonardo, Umar Rashid, Jerry Siegel, Leslie Smith III, and Renée Stout to respond to Thornton Dial's work and to relate it to their own artistic practice. This exhibition, taking its name from a 1999 Thornton Dial assemblage in the upcoming exhibition at the Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts, features works that illustrate what made me connect these artists to the art of Thornton Dial.

On November 12, 2010, a mutual acquaintance brought me to meet Thornton Dial in his studio in Bessemer, Alabama, for the first time. After nearly a decade of work (and two-years of COVID delays), the first retrospective of Dial's entire career will open very near to where Mr. Dial lived and worked for decades.

Thornton Dial: I, Too, Am Alabama at the Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts at UAB will present seminal works from the 1980s alongside major works from the height of his production and some of his poignant, last works.

I, Too, Am Thornton Dial, presented concurrently at the Samford University Art Gallery before traveling to the Wiregrass Museum of Art, expands this examination with a focus on Dial's outstanding works on paper. This exhibition at Maus Contemporary expands this curatorial exploration even further to create a dialogue across decades and draw connections between Thornton Dial's place in history and, "the fierce urgency of now."

 
- Paul Barrett, May 2022