In his art, Dial explores the long genealogy of black creativity that find inspiration in the symbolic energies of junk. In fact, refuse and its transformation are the subject of his major work Stars of Everything. The central figure in this piece is a bloated and downtrodden American eagle who is dressed in a ratty suit and wears over his shoulders a piece of old carpet and strands of rope, Dial's familiar markers of social oppression. Half-buzzard, the character is, in one sense, a surreal portrait of Dial himself. Dial sees himself as a scavenger or "pickup bird" who finds creative sustenance in material scraps and constructs his art from the detritus of the world. Here he presides over a colorful universe fashioned from his used paint cans, cut and splayed to form a field of brilliant stars that satirize celebrity as well as represent a genuine quest for success and its rewards.


  • Title: Stars of Everything
  • 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: 2004
  • Location Created: McCalla, Alabama
  • Physical Dimensions: 98 x 101 1/2 x 20 1/2 in. (248.9 x 257.9 x 52 cm)
  • Subject Keywords: Black art, African American art
  • Type: Assemblage, Painting
  • Rights: © Thornton Dial / Photo: Stephen Pitkin, Pitkin Studio
  • External Link: https://www.soulsgrowndeep.org/artist/thornton-dial
  • Medium: Paint cans, plastic cans, spray paint cans, clothing, wood, steel, carpet, plastic straws, rope, oil, enamel, spray paint, and Splash Zone compound on canvas on wood

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