Thornton Dial was a gifted self-taught artist. He grew up in rural Emelle before moving to Bessemer and building Pullman cars for most of his adult life. After his retirement in the 1980’s, he began making assemblages with found objects and painting massive canvases. His work spanned everything from the personal experiences of African Americans in Alabama to international political topics. His intricately layered creations have been exhibited in several eminent museums, including the High, the Whitney, the Smithsonian, and the Met.