Lost Farm (Billy Goat Hill)

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    Photo: Stephen Pitkin / Pitkin Studio
Desiccated goat, rat, and turkey; steel, rope, carpet, rope carpet, peach basket, wood, tire scraps, plastic toys, shoes, motor-oil bottle, wire fencing, chains, ironing board, farm and construction tools, wire, paintbrushes, enamel, spray paint, and Splash Zone compound on canvas on wood
84 x 72 x 13 inches
Collection of
The Museum of Fine Arts Houston

Among Dial’s most profound ruminations on the Old South is Lost Farm (Billy Goat Hill), in which he reassembles numerous relics of rural existence—from farm tools, woven baskets, and an ironing board to the actual desiccated remains of a rat, turkey, and goat. Castoffs of progress, these old objects are covered in a silvery grey as if seen through the dusty residue of memory. They are also joined together by an underlying network of knotted rags, iron chain, rope, and fencing that recalls the endless life of hardship from which many rural folk never escaped. Such symbols of subjugation and confinement appear with great frequency throughout Dial’s work, as a way to signal the bondage of slavery, the servitude and poverty that followed emancipation, and the shackling of human possibility for all historically oppressed peoples. —Joanne Cubbs