Don't Matter How Raggly the Flag, It Still Got to Tie Us Together
Thornton Dial, 2003
Born on a former plantation in Alabama, Thornton Dial spent most of his life as a metalworker in a railroad car factory. He turned to artmaking only later in his adulthood, fashioning complex assemblages and paintings from objects that he found in the area around his home. Although Dial created this artwork in 2003 after the Iraq War started, it continues to speak to present-day concerns. It is now on view in the Damon C. and Kay D. Davis Lab on Floor 2 of the Museum.
This installation is the first in a series of experimental displays designed to learn from our guests. While the IMA at Newfields houses an art collection with works from many cultures across 5,000 years of human creativity, we resolve to collect and exhibit more artworks by diverse artists going forward. Also, through this series of experimental installations we hope to become better at telling more inclusive stories about the art we exhibit—stories that reflect the community in which we all live and the communities beyond.
The American flag means different things to different people. How does this artwork make you feel?
We believe in the power of art to stimulate meaningful conversations about relevant issues. In this installation, we invited guests to respond to Dial’s work using the prompt “The American flag means different things to different people. How does this artwork make you feel?” We displayed nearly all of the responses submitted, excluding those that promoted hate or violence or had excessive profanity. Here, you can see guests’ responses that represent a range of the comments submitted.
A guest views response cards in the IMA Galleries.
Artwork: Thornton Dial (American 1928–2016), Don't Matter How Raggly the Flag, It Still Got to Tie Us Together, 2003, mattress coils, chicken wire, clothing, can lids, found metal, plastic twine, wire, Splash Zone compound, enamel, spray paint, on canvas on wood, 71 × 114 × 8 in. Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields, James E. Roberts Fund, Deaccessioned Sculpture Fund, Xenia and Irwin J. Miller Fund, Alice and Kirk McKinney Fund, Anonymous IV Art Fund, Henry F. and Katherine DeBoest Memorial Fund, Martha Delzell Memorial Fund, Mary V. Black Art Endowment Fund, Elizabeth S. Lawton Fine Art Fund, Emma Harter Sweetser Fund, General Endowed Art Fund, Delavan Smith Fund, General Memorial Art Fund, Deaccessioned Contemporary Art Fund, General Art Fund, Frank Curtis Springer & Irving Moxley Springer Purchase Fund, Mrs. Pierre F. Goodrich Endowed Art Fund, 2008.182 © Thornton Dial / Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY.