Trip to the Mountaintop

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    Photo: Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio
Wood, clothing, wire screen, rope, steel, wire, and plastic
132 x 86 x 51 inches
Collection of
Toledo Museum of Art
Museum purchase and gift of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation

Standing eleven feet tall, Dial's Trip to the Mountaintop is a veritable mountain constructed from broken pieces of painted wood, steel, and wire. The sculpture is traversed by a velvet road that takes the traveler, or view, up and around the mountain, allowing them to share both the journey and the view. Seen from various angles, the black road resembles a widow's veil, an oblique reference to Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination on April 4, 1968, just one day after the delivery of his famous "I've Been to the Mountaintop" speech in Memphis, Tennessee, during the sanitation strike. King's speech called for unity and a continuation of non-violent protest, but also foreshadowed his own death.

"And then I got into Memphis. And some began to say the threats, or talk about the threats that were out. What would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers?

Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn't matter with me now, because I've been to the mountaintop.

And I don't mind.

Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!

And so I'm happy, tonight.

I'm not worried about anything.

I'm not fearing any man!

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!!"