Thornton Dial : “folk artist” or simply “artist”?

Thornton Dial was born to Mattie Bell in 1928 in Emelle, Alabama. He lived with his mother until he was around three when Dial and his half-brother Arthur moved in with their second cousin, Buddy Jake Dial, who was a farmer. When Thornton moved in with Buddy Jake, he farmed and learned about the sculptures that Buddy Jake made from items lying around the yard, an experience that greatly influenced him[1] Dial grew up in poverty and without the presence of his father. This poverty led him and his siblings to create toys from the discarded objects around them.[2]

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