Arts & Humanities Campus News

Ronald Lockett and Thornton Dial in dialogue

Ronald Lockett (American, 1965 – 1998), “Undiscovered,” 1993. Rusted tin and colored pencil mounted on wood, 46 1/2 × 45 1/2 × 5 1/2 inches. Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia; Gift of Ron and June Shelp. GMOA 2019.309. (Submitted photo)

As part of a series of tightly focused exhibitions installed within its permanent collection, the Georgia Museum of Art presents “In Dialogue: Artist, Mentor, Friend: Ronald Lockett and Thornton Dial Sr.” through Nov. 28. The exhibition consists of a single work by each artist.

Lockett and Dial are both known for using discarded or overlooked materials to create complex and wondrous works of art that address American society, politics and culture. Their works use sheets of metal, rusted and molded cans, wires, rope and even bones. War, racism and bigotry were common themes in Dial’s works. Lockett, Dial’s cousin and artistic mentee, focused his work on highlighting the experience of growing up as a Black man in 1980s rural Alabama.

“In an attempt to make connections with objects in our vast permanent collection, I’m comparing works by two famous Bessemer, Alabama, artists who have been the focus of many exciting exhibitions,” said Shawnya Harris, Larry D. and Brenda A. Thompson Curator of African American and African Diasporic Art, who organized the exhibition. “The Lockett is a recent acquisition that I have never shown. I wanted to take this and another object by Thornton Dial Sr. to celebrate their unique artistry.”

“In Dialogue” is a series of installations in which the Georgia Museum of Art’s curators create focused, innovative conversations around works of art from the permanent collection. The series brings these familiar works to life by placing them in dialogue with works of art by influential peers, related sketches and studies or even objects from later periods.

Related events include:

  • Family Day To-Go from July 8-11, at which participants can pick up free art kits from the museum during regular hours
  • Toddler Tuesday on July 20 at 10 a.m. This program is designed for families with children ages 18 months to 3 years.
  • Teen Studio on July 22 at 5:30 p.m. for ages 13-18 with local artist and educator Kristen Bach; participants will create their own sculpture from found materials.
  • A curator talk on Zoom by Harris on Sept. 1 at 2 p.m.

All programs are free and open to the public. Toddler Tuesday and Teen Studio are in-person programs and require reservations. To reserve a spot, email Sage Kincaid at To register for the Zoom talk by Harris, visit the museum’s website and select the calendar event for the program.