• A chair sculpture by Richard Dial titled Everyday Love, dated 2021. The sculpture shows two figures embracing with quilted strips of fabric as the seat.

    Richard Dial

    Everyday Love, 2021

    Oil-based paint on metal, fabric

    64 x 27½ x 25 inches

  • A chair sculpture by Richard Dial titled Precious, showing two figures embracing in lines of wire. The seat is covered with an animal-print, furry fabric. Dated 2021.

    Richard Dial

    Precious, 2021

    Oil-based paint on metal, fabric

    62 x 28 x 26 inches

  • A chair sculpture by Richard Dial titled Man Under Pressure, dated 2000. The geometric chair has a symmetrical seat and back, while curling handles and a face drawn in wire underneath breath the symmetry.

    Richard Dial

    Man Under Pressure, 2000

    Oil-based paint on metal

    56 x 21 x 31 inches

  • A chair sculpture by Richard Dial titled Presidential, dated 2023. The sculpture shows wire-frame drawings of previous presidents and stars, painted red, white, and blue.

    Richard Dial

    Presidential, 2023

    Oil-based paint on metal, paint on canvas

    64¾ x 29 x 36½ inches

  • A chair sculpture by Richard Dial titled Day Off, dated 2023. The sculpture shows a relaxing figure holding a cup in one hand and resting his head in the other hand.

    Richard Dial

    Day Off, 2023

    Oil-based paint on metal and carpet

    66 x 29 x 35½ inches

Circa 1989

February 9 -April 2, 2022

Selected Solo Exhibitions

Everyday Love
Richard Dial
Institute 193

Selected Group Exhibitions

Living Legacies: Art of the African American South
Toledo Museum of Art

Circa 1989

Anyone Can Move a Mountain
Maus Contemporary

The Marzio Years: Transforming the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1982–2010
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Trip to the Mountaintop: Recent Acquisitions from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation
Toledo Museum of Art

Folk Art Revealed
The American Folk Art Museum

African-American Art in the Collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Souls Grown Deep: African American Vernacular Art of the South
Michael C. Carlos Museum at City Hall East, Atlanta

An artist capable of so thoroughly invoking the all-encompassing emotionality of experiences like holding a child, grazing the hand of a new lover, or luxuriating in bed on your one day off is a rare thing already. Rarer still is one who can structure that intensity through the form of an object which has become so culturally banal, and in the process imply that every such unconsidered object could become the vessel of a powerful emotional richness. Using the wreckage of the same industrial system implicated in the contemporary landscape of bland material culture and in the subjugation of Black lives throughout the history of this country, Richard Dial stretches, bends, and modulates an instantly recognizable object until it is capable of carrying the wild intensity of life’s everyday intimacies. 

In 1984, amidst the closure of the Pullman Standard Company factory where they worked for much of their lives, Richard Dial, with the help of his brother, Thornton Dial Jr., and their father, Thornton Dial, established Dial Metal Patterns. The family business was designed to take advantage of the collapse of the industrial economy that had long structured their home of Bessemer, Alabama, as well as the subsequent boom in availability of skilled labor. A sustained engagement with furniture-making through the company’s “Shade Tree Comfort” line of patio furniture led Richard to begin making chairs as art objects, using both his mastery of metalworking techniques and an inventive, socially-engaged artistic vision to explore the possibilities of re-animating an object blunted by globalized industrial production. 

An initial flurry of work in the late 1980s contributed to Dial’s early recognition, after which he shifted his focus back to the family business, leaving little time for artistic pursuits. When business died down, a second wave of creative activity in the mid-2000s prefigured his recent inclusion in major museum shows in New York, Houston, and Toledo, Ohio. Shortly after, Dial put his artistic production on hold once more as caring for his aging father took precedence. In recent years, he has resumed making work, creating the series presented here: a reflection on the long process of caring for his parents and other deeply intimate family experiences, placing everyday concerns about love, friendship, and labor on their properly spiritual plane.

Richard Dial (b. 1955, Bessemer, Alabama) has exhibited at the Toledo Museum of Art (Toledo, Ohio), the Michael C. Carlos Museum (Atlanta, GA), the High Museum of Art (Atlanta, GA), the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts (Kalamazoo, MI), MARCH (New York, NY), Maus Contemporary (Birmingham, AL), the Museum of Art (Tallahassee, FL), and the Toledo Museum of Art (Toledo, OH), among others. His work resides in the collections of the American Folk Art Museum (New York, NY), the Birmingham Museum of Art (Birmingham, AL) the High Museum of Art (Atlanta, GA), the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (Houston, TX) and the Souls Grown Deep Foundation (Atlanta, GA).

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