The Beginning of Days: Thornton Dial's "Disaster Areas"

Aspiration & Artifice: The Constructed Visage

Friday, July 8th, 2011

The Beginning of Days: Thornton Dial's Disaster Areas

Tornadoes, floods, tsunamis, hurricanes, coal mining catastrophes and terrorist attacks have become a part of the world’s daily conversation, filmed and reported by a 24-hour news cycle or uploaded to YouTube by people on the ground. Dial, like the rest of us, has witnessed these disasters through the filter of the television screen, inundated with images of flooded homes, stranded families and fields strewn with debris. These snapshots of devastation, formatted like electronic postcards, have always been fertile material for Dial and have manifested themselves in paintings and drawings over the past 20 years. The inevitable visual imprints left by these images are re-worked by Dial into compositions that illustrate the disasters themselves, but also tell the more complex stories of individual lives affected, the unequal hardships that the poor are forced to endure and the role of the artist as documentarian. 

This exhibition, titled Disaster Areas, examines works made by Dial over the past four years dealing with various disasters, natural and man-made. These works tell the stories of specific events: the tornadoes that destroyed Tuscaloosa this past spring, Hurricane Katrina and the tsunamis that recently ravaged Japan. From the wreckage and rubble of destruction Dial constructs complex and beautiful assemblages that illustrate the fragility of the human condition but affirm the profound belief that we are all in this together. 

Aspiration & Artifice: The Constructed Visage featuring photography by Greg Lotus

Renowned for his editorial point of view, Lotus’ work regularly appears in international editions of Vogue, Vanity Fair, GQ, L’Uomo Vogue, and W magazines. His subjects include international celebrities Penelope Cruz, Mary J. Blige, Katy Perry, Milla Jovovich, Eva Longoria, Pierce Brosnan, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Chris Brown, Channing Tatum and Elizabeth Hurley among others. He has also developed world famous campaigns for Escada, L’Oreal, Swarovski, Cartier, Neiman Marcus and Van Cleef & Arpels.

The collection of photos spanning his 20-year career draw inspiration from classical paintings, international travels and life experiences. Lotus has developed his own evocative way of using light and shadow, playing with angles and composition to enhance the graphic quality of his images. Aspiration and Artifice captures the human desire to move beyond the common experience, often resulting in a constructed exaggeration of natural beauty. Nature is a recurrent motif in his photography; wild surroundings and exotic animals link the rarefied atmosphere of the fashion industry to the organic beauty of the natural world.