Clothes Factory

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    Photo: Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio
Mattress frame, rope, carpet, fabric, plastic, enamel, spray paint, industrial sealing compound on canvas mounted on wood
60 x 80.5 x 10.5 inches
Collection of
National Gallery of Art
Museum purchase and gift of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation

Following the death of Sarah Dial Lockett, who raised Thornton Dial (and was a prolific quilter), Dial honored her with a piece called Clothes Factory. This work was made with strips of cloth and a grid of metal bedsprings. Not only does Clothes Factory resemble a strip quilt, but it was executed by Dial with a quilting technique, and one of its meanings is that the technological succession by which automation replaces human labor makes our "beds" (i.e., our underlying sense of who we are) barer, because the traditions and knowledge of the craft evaporate when machines are substituted for human beings.