The End of November: The Birds That Didn't Learn How to Fly

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    Photo: Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio
Quilt, wire, fabric, and enamel on wood
72 x 72 inches
Collection of
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Gift of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation

This painting is one of a series of works by Dial depicting dead birds hanging from a clothesline, their lives cut short. The birds are fashioned from folded and crumpled gloves, which are then painted, wrapped with wire, and suspended from a line. The backdrop for this particular scene is a found quilt embellished with paint. This work’s subtitle, The End of November, signals the coming of winter, its presence further announced by the predominant colors of blue and purple. Winter brings literal and metaphorical cold, quiet, and death to those who cannot find shelter or leave entirely. Birds migrate to warmer climates to await the return of spring. Dial, who typically uses birds as symbols of freedom, promise, and success, has presented these dead birds as still and quiet reminders of lives and potential lost to indifference or worse. These birds, common specimens of the poor, have been caught in the winter-like environment of poverty, unemployment, disability, and lack of opportunity that plagues whole segments of our population.