Mercedes-Benz Comes to Alabama

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    Photo: Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio
1993 - 1994
Automobile parts, clothing, found metal, plastic toys, soil, sand, rubber, oil, enamel, spray paint, and Splash Zone compound on canvas on wood
120 x 82.5 x 8 inches
Collection of
Souls Grown Deep Foundation

This painting is Dial's response to the announcement that Mercedes-Benz was planning to build a factory east of Tuscaloosa, less than a half-hour's drive from Dial's home. The news was of special interest to him since it portended a major change in that rural Alabama area. Even though the prospect of the new plant was greeted in many quarters with great optimism because of the jobs it would create and the enormous boost to the local economy expected to follow. Dial was far less sanguine than the majority of residents about the new industry. In this work, he recontextualizes the factory's arrival as a long-anticipated quasi-religious event with all the fanfare of the "sanctified dancing" that he had pictured in a previous piece bearing that title. The greed of some of the frenzied figures has turned them into cyborgs, fused with the very automotive parts that feed their excitement. The dark surface of this work simulates the grime of factory floors, thus transforming the future into an all too well-known past by equating its allure with the pollution found in industrialized sections of the Birmingham District.