The Tiger Cat

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    Photo: Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio
  • Click on image to enlarge

    Photo: William Arnett, 1988
Metal, paint, Splash Zone compound
69.5 x 107.5 x 57 inches
Collection of
Hood Museum of Art
Museum purchase and gift of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation

This metal sculpture was Dial's first use of the symbolic tiger in his artwork. No longer the ferocious man-eating terror of the jungle, this creature is dominated by relatively placid animals, including a turkey, goose, rabbit, and chicken, perched on its back. Because the tiger is at least partly a symbol in Dial's work for African American aspirations for equality, the tiger's static state and ignominious role as a beast of burden can be taken as representative of a lack of freedom. Within the empty body of this animal are the split carcasses of blacks arranged on racks as if they were sides of meat hung in a butcher shop. The black and white tiger is trapped and confused by his mixed identity and lack of a clear understanding of his rightful role. Dial comments: "The tiger cat used to be wild in the jungle, and catching his own food. Then they tame him and give him their food to eat. Then he get fat and slow, and he don't scare nobody no more."