In the Making of Our Oldest Things

Back to Artist
  • Click on image to enlarge

    Photo: Stephen Pitkin / Pitkin Studio
2008
Fabric, twine, and enamel on canvas on wood
72 x 96 inches

Collection of:

Description: 

From a distance, In the Making of Our Oldest Things reads like a map, an aerial view of rural farmland divided into irregular plots.

From a distance, In the Making of Our Oldest Things reads like a map, an aerial view of rural farmland divided into irregular plots. Dial’s map, constructed of found pieces of cloth and “stitched” together with thin pieces of red twine, further mimics the aesthetic of a pieced quilt. Dial has created many works that use the structure of the quilt to honor women and the traditions that they have maintained for generations, including works like Memory of the Ladies That Gave Us the Good Life, Birmingham News, and Creation Story. In this particular work, Dial employs a quilt aesthetic to bear witness to the seamless relationship between people and the land, creating fields from fabric and a quilt inspired by the land itself. Small farms, the original foundations of the rural southern economy, once blanketed the region, providing food and income, albeit meager, to the sharecroppers and farmers that maintained them. The small farms of Dial’s youth have all but vanished from the South, replaced by large, machine-dependent operations. The gradual loss of small farms is paralleled by the disappearance of a kind of self-sufficiency that was once a way of life. The making of our oldest things has been replaced by the buying of our newest products.