Friday, May 18th, 5pm to 9pm May 18, 2012


Join us Friday Night at NOMA for Where Y’Art as we celebrate the exhibition of Hard Truths: The Art of Thornton Dial.

  • Closing Friday of Hard Truths: The Art of Thornton Dial (Exhibition officially closes on Sunday, May 20th)
  • 5pm to 8pm: Art Making Activity
  • 5pm to 6pm: Vocal choral performance by Trinity Episcopal School
  • 6pm to 8:30pm: Music: Dorian Rush & Dave James
  • 6pm: Discussion: Now and Then: Black Art, Folk Art, and Contemporary Art by art historians Jane Livingston and John Beardsley
  • 7:15pm (following the Folk Art discussion): Film: Mr. Dial Has Something To Say
  • 8:15pm: Film: Passionate Visions of the American South

About Now and Then: Black Art, Folk Art, and Contemporary Art
Jane Livingston and John Beardsley, curators of the landmark exhibition Black Folk Art in America, which premiered at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C, thirty years ago this past January, will look back at the genesis and character of the exhibition and its implications for changing understandings of African American art, folk art, and mainstream contemporary art. These understandings have only grown more complex with the emergence of figures as accomplished as Thornton Dial.

About Hard Truths: The Art of Thornton Dial
Hard Truths: The Art of Thornton Dial highlights the artist’s significant contribution to the field of American art and shows how Dial’s work speaks to the most pressing issues of our time-including the war in Iraq, 9/11, and social issues like racism and homelessness. The exhibition presents over 40 of Dial’s large-scale paintings, drawings and found-object sculptures. Spanning twenty years of his work as an artist, it is the most extensive showing of his art ever mounted and is organized by the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

About Mr. Dial Has Something To Say
(Approximate Run Time: 1 Hour)
This feature high-definition documentary explores the visual arts sibling of jazz, the blues and gospel.

As the visual interpretation of life from America’s former slave culture, this improvisational style is a unique artistic view in American history-and one of America’s few very home-grown artistic styles.

This film seeks to address the following questions: What is the meaning and history of this movement? Who are the artists and why do they create? Has Afro-American improvisational visual art been disregarded by the mainstream art world as less important? Have terms such as “outsider”, “visionary,” “primitive,” “folk,” “self-taught,” and “naïve”-all of which have been applied to this particular style-downgraded the importance of this art?

Art historian and author Paul Arnett says that these are some of the only terms in the art world that describe the artists, and not the art. Are these terms classist, or racist? The current movement toward recognizing and elevating great Southern African-American talents, such as Dial, is causing the artistic intelligentsia to reexamine its own prejudices.

“I think that it would not be a controversial thing to say that there has been racism in the art world,” Dr. Jacquelyn Serwer, chief curator of the Corcoran Galley of Art, says. “There’s been racism in almost every sphere.”

Are works produced by artists who never received formal training equal in dollar value to pieces created by talent honed in art classes? On a more fundamental level, what is art, where is it born, and who decides what is great art?

“It asks us all about genius,” curator Dr. Alvia Wardlaw says, “and where does it reside?”

About Passionate Visions of the American South
(Approximate Run Time: 30 Minutes)

The 1993 documentary film was produced in a partnership with WYES in conjunction with the NOMA exhibition, Passionate Visions of the American South: Self Taught Artists from 1940 to the Present, which was on view that same year. Three artists, Jimmy Lee Sudduth, Howard Finster, and Purvis Young, who are featured in the documentary are also featured in NOMA’s current exhibition, Self Taught Artists from the Permanent Collection, now on view in the Great Hall. The film explores the history of self taught art and the artists who produce the work.

About Trinity Episcopal School
Trinity Episcopal School, an independent co-educational day school of Trinity Episcopal Church, enrolls students in Prekindergarten through Eighth Grade. Dedicated to the academic, emotional, social, and spiritual growth of our students, the School strives to develop individual learners and thinkers who are responsible for their lifelong learning. To achieve this end, the highest academic standards are maintained. The curriculum emphasizes strong basic skills that are augmented and expanded upon each year.

This event is related to the exhibition Hard Truths: The Art of Thornton Dial.