In 1993, following the first Gulf War, Dial fashioned Veteran’s Day, a tribute to the country’s soldiers staged in a dark, murky cemetery. Filled with glowing specters of sacrificed souls, the piece is a memorial to the lost lives of those young black people for whom the risks and dangers of the military have been one of the only ways to escape poverty and disadvantage. The towns of wooden crosses in Dial’s graveyard form a grid that turns into fencing and prison bars.


  • Title: Veteran's Day
  • Creator: Thornton Dial
  • Creator Lifespan: 1928/2016
  • Creator Nationality: American
  • Creator Gender: Male
  • Creator Death Place: McCalla, Alabama
  • Creator Birth Place: Emelle, Alabama
  • Date Created: 1993
  • Location Created: McCalla, Alabama
  • Physical Dimensions: 91 x 79 1/2 x 5 in. (231.1 x 201.9 x 12.7 cm)
  • Subject Keywords: Gulf War, Mass incarceration, African American art, Black art
  • Type: Painting, Assemblage
  • Rights: © Thornton Dial / Photo: Stephen Pitkin, Pitkin Studio
  • External Link: https://www.soulsgrowndeep.org/artist/thornton-dial
  • Medium: Basketball, baseball, fabric, wood, plastic, carpet, paper, tin, soil, pebbles, wire, oil, enamel, spray paint, and Splash Zone compound on canvas on wood

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