Soul Train

Thornton Dial, American, 1928 - 2016



Clothing, tin, rope carpet, bicycle horn, enamel paint, splash zone compound on canvas mounted on wood

Overall: 71 × 71 1/2 × 5 in. (180.3 × 181.6 × 12.7 cm)

Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth: Purchased through the Evelyn A. and William B. Jaffe 2015 Fund



Place Made: United States, North America


20th century

Object Name


Research Area


Not on view


How do you paint a soul? Dial’s depiction occupies most of this painting. We can discern the train of the title rolling across the lower band of the composition, depicted with found objects and painted a matte black. The remainder of the painting is marked by bright colors and swirling forms. Dial adhered clothing to the surface to create depth and painted the deeply textured surface in a flurry of hues ranging from bright magenta to midnight blue.

Soul Train was a familiar cultural reference at the time Dial painted this work. The long-standing television show (it aired from 1971 to 2006) focused on music identified with African American musicians, ranging from R&B and soul to gospel and jazz. Dial’s use of the reference for this train suggests a framing of the top portion of the painting as an allusion to the soul. It appears colorful and unknowable—perhaps that is just right.

From the 2021 exhibition Thornton Dial: The Tiger Cat, curated by John R. Stomberg Ph.D, Virginia Rice Kelsey 1961s Director

Course History

SART 76, Senior Seminar, Enrico Riley, Winter 2022

Exhibition History

Thornton Dial: The Tiger Cat, Northeast Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth, Hanover, New Hampshire, September 11, 2021–July 16, 2022.


Souls Grown Deep Foundation

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