Folks Lost in the Woods, Found by Mr. Dial

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    Photo: Gamma One Conversions
1988
Enamel, pine needles, leaves, Bondo, on wood
35 x 50.5 inches

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Folks Lost in the Woods, Found by Mr. Dial is a sculpture-painting in that “blurred genre” that Dial has helped define and develop along with other contemporary artists.

Folks Lost in the Woods, Found by Mr. Dial is a sculpture-painting in that “blurred genre” that Dial has helped define and develop along with other contemporary artists. The double meanings possible from combining two conventional genres are explored and deployed in many of Dial's works. In his hands this mixed genre has become a vehicle of expression that signifies by means of the conventional distinction between sculpture and painting. In this case the sculpted faces emerge like exhumed grave bodies from the chaos of the surrounding “woods.” (Imagine runaway slaves, terrorized Ku Klux Klan victims, ordinary rural or urban black folk enduring exploitation or anonymity.) With compassionate, even nurturing care their rescuer has swept back the debris for them. Not yet fully formed, the disorder of the misshapen faces appears alternately monstrous and heroic. Inside the ordering frame of a conventional canvas, however, that which was lost and abused, even bloodied and violated, can also appear found and retrieved, reconstituted and recovered. The harmed/healed souls of these lost-found folks have been pharmacopeically treated by the artist as conjuror of alternating realities: distorted and unseemly sculptures, reclaimed and valorized in a framed painting. Hereby the spiritual travail of black experience in the “wilderness” of America has been encoded and encapsulated as a quest for transformation. The artist has both represented and further extended that quest through his imagination and craft, through his will-to-transform the lost souls surrounding him.