Tree of Life (In the Image of Old Things)

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    Photo: Ron Lee/The Silver Factory
Found wood, roots, rubber tire, wire, fabric, plastic air freshener, enamel, industrial sealing compound
79 x 45 x 44 inches
Collection of
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
Adolph D. and Wilkins C. Williams Fund and partial gift of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation

Dial was raised by his great-aunt, Sarah Dial Lockett. Tree of Life (In the Image of Old Things) is a complicated root work relating to her life and impending death (in 1995 after living for over a century). "Auntie" had purchased from a community craftsman a plant stand made from an old automobile tire, a familiar accouterment in rural yards. Using the plant stand as container and base, Dial created Tree of Life shortly before her death, joining together an assemblage of old wood and modern castoffs. Its theme: accommodate, if you must, the changing times, the fads and fashions, but respect your traditions, and continue to honor the past. Dial, who was illegitimate and who grew up surrounded by racially mixed relatives, looks at his genealogy, his own tree of life, as an improvisional schema not unlike the growth of a real tree sinking its roots in sturdy traditions. The flayed tire, no longer traveling the roads, nurtures new life.