Thornton Dial: Thoughts on Paper

March 30, 2012July 1, 2012

Image of woman and bird

One of America’s most remarkable living artists, Thornton Dial is widely recognized for his large-scale, multimedia assemblages, yet his most abundant body of work is his drawings, which he began producing in the early 1990s. Organized by the Ackland Art Museum, Thornton Dial: Thoughts on Paper will feature 50 of Dial’s earliest drawings from 1990-1991, a pivotal moment in his artistic career.

The Ackland Art Museum is well known for its extensive collection of works on paper and in particular, its outstanding collection of drawings, making it a natural venue in which to explore this less-known but highly significant portion of Dial’s oeuvre. The works in the exhibition—characterized by flowing lines, color washes, and images of women, fish, and tigers—provide a touchstone of Dial’s creative process.


Bernie Herman, guest exhibition curator and George B. Tindall Professor of American Studies, UNC-Chapel Hill, will give an introductory talk about Thornton Dial and the works in
Thoughts on Paper. A reception at the Ackland Art Museum — with music by the Sinful Savage Tigers — follows. Public Lecture and Opening Reception Thursday, March 29, 2012, 5:30 p.m., Hanes Art Center Auditorium

The Museum will remain open until 8:00 PM.

An accompanying publication, Thornton Dial: Thoughts on Paper, edited by Bernard L. Herman (guest exhibition curator and George B. Tindall Professor of American Studies at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) and published by UNC Press, offers the first sustained critical attention to Thornton Dial’s works on paper. The book includes contributions by Bernard L. Herman, Juan Logan, Glenn Hinson, Colin Rhodes, and Cara Zimmerman. It is available for purchase at the Museum Store.

The presentation of Thornton Dial: Thoughts on Paper at the Ackland Art Museum is made possible by a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and the David G. Frey Expendable American Art Fund.

Support for all Ackland exhibitions is provided by the William Hayes Ackland Trust, and members and friends of the Ackland Art Museum.

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Image Credit: Thornton Dial, American, born 1928, Lady Holds the Long Neck Bird, 1991; watercolor. 29-5/8 x 22 in. Ackland Art Museum, Gift of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation, 2011.15.6.