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  • <i>Lost Cows</i>, 2000–2001

    Lost Cows, 2000–2001

    Cow skeletons, steel, golf bag, golf ball, mirrors, enamel, and Splash Zone compound.

    Collection of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation.

    The spooky characters in this work are assembled from the bones of a small herd of cattle that perished soon after Dial acquired them. They are a self-mocking reference to his lost investment and an eerie elegy to the old rural South. The assemblage is also a meditation on the cycle of life and death. Rising above the scene are the triangular rooflines of a slaughterhouse and hanging at the center is a leather golf bag, a wry reference to the cow's rebirth as consumer product. Dial has crafted a memento mori—a reminder of universal mortality—by placing mirrors in the eye sockets of one of his phantom cows to capture viewers' tiny reflections.

    Thornton Dial's highly original works provide compelling commentary on the most pervasive challenges of our time—from reflections on race and class struggle in America to haunting meditations on events of contemporary global concern.

    He creates dense accumulations of symbolically charged discarded materials, often engulfing them in expressionistic brushstrokes of color. Filled with rich allegories, his work invites us to discover many layers of meaning in its writhing forms, curious juxtapositions, and powerful imagery. Dial's paintings and assemblages draw inspiration from the rich aesthetic traditions of the black South. Among these is the African American yard show, a highly influential yet little-recognized genre of found-object sculptural display that employs cast-off materials as a form of encoded visual language.

    Location:  Anne Cox Chambers Wing

    Organization & Support
    This exhibition is organized by the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

    Generous support of this exhibition is provided by the Friends of Thornton Dial and Art Partners.

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