Untitled chair

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    Photo: Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio
Welded steel, wire, paint
41 x 21.5 x 27 inches
Collection of
Souls Grown Deep Foundation

Beginning with his first art chair, an untitled piece, Dial plays with an incarnation of tradition in the form of a chair that might offer comfort and might just as often present a situation totally untenable and discomforting. In this piece he transforms curlicues, part of the traditional decorative motif of his lawn furniture, into an abstracted handlebar mustache and muttonchops. The reference gives the piece a turn-of-the-century flavor and could allude to robber barons in the Birmingham District who hired vast numbers of black workers because they were cheap labor who would allow the companies to compete with more established industries in the North. When Richard Dial memorializes this figure in terms of his own manufactured furniture, he also makes a double joke about the fact that while white capitalists have been literally dependent on black labor, his business has also profited from an availability of surplus black labor.