Thornton Dial

When Dial took up drawing in 1990, he experimented with different materials and papers. In this work—created on a heavy, handmade paper—a bird’s nest rests atop a woman’s head. With exposed breasts and rouged cheeks, and surrounded by lush green plants, she is a symbol of fertility and life force. The work’s title, Life Go On, is a statement of resilience but also one of faith. Dial believed that human creativity illuminates divine creation. He said, “I don’t care what fall, what stand up, life still going to go on. You going to find out how to use the things created in the world for man. The Lord laid out that kind of example for man to go by.”

Thornton Dial
American, 1928–2016
Life Go On, 1990
Watercolor, acrylic, and graphite on handmade paper
The Morgan Library & Museum, gift of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation from the William S. Arnett Collection and purchase on the Manley Family Fund; 2018.96
© 2021 Estate of Thornton Dial / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York