Looking Good for the Price

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    Photo: Gamma One Conversions
Tin, metal screen, metal fence, bicycle chain, burned materials, enamel, spray paint, and Splash Zone compound on canvas on wood
79 x 79 x 7.5 inches

"These folks come here from 60 Minutes and saying they want to give respect for the black peoples making art. But after a while, that TV man start talking the art down and ask Bill [Arnett] how something made by a man like Dial—he be meaning a little colored boy without no education—how it be worth one hundred thousand dollars. And Bill say if stuff be selling for a million that a white man make and ain't no better he guess Dial look pretty good for the money.

"The television person talk about me in my face like white folks used to talk about their servants in the same room, hurtful talk, like they ain't there, stuff like that. It got to be respect in the United States. Sometimes it is, nowadays. Sometimes it ain't. I was thinking about some of that lately, and my auntie, Sarah Lockett, she was telling me about the history, and about slave-selling, and it seem to me this man talking the price of Dial don't be no different than the slave-seller talking the price of a African, like a bull or cow. So I made me this piece of art, the white auction man talking the value of the slave. That twisted-up tiger at the bottom—he going to struggle through this mess. A bicycle chain on there saying that the same stuff just keep going around. Mr. Dial might be looking good for the price, but he just as soon still be a slave." —Thornton Dial