CONCEIVED AND DIRECTED BY
Thornton Dial probably isn't a name you know.
Born in 1928 in Alabama, Dial is a self-taught visual artist who didn't really begin practicing his craft until after he retired. He began with figurative sculptures, then moved on to painting and mixed media.
"Mr. Dial Has Something to Say" is more than the story of Thornton Dial. It's a look at how African-American visual artists have have long been dismissed, while their musical counterparts in jazz, gospel and blues have been widely recognized for their influence on contemporary music.
"I think that it would not be a controversial thing to say that there has been racism in the art world," notes Dr. Jacque Serwer, the chief curator of the Corcoran gallery of art.
"Mr. Dial Has Something to Say" takes a look at the second-class status often afforded African-American visual artists, and the prevalence of institutional racism that keeps African-American visual artists from receiving the same recognition as their musical counterparts.
Directed by Celia Carey on high-definition video, "Mr. Dial Has Something to Say" looks at the contemporary art scene with surprising honesty as the elevation of artists such as Mr. Dial is causing the art world to look within at the prejudices that still exist.
By providing audiences with the personal story of the compelling Thornton Dial, Carey draws us in and then broadens the scope of the issue to involve the national art community.
Winner of a Special Jury Prize as runner-up for Best Documentary Feature during the 2008 Indianapolis International Film Festival, "Mr. Dial Has Something to Say" is an educational and entertaining look at a visual arts scene that has long impacted American artists. Finally, we're starting to admit it.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic