Opening June 30: Hard Truths: The Art of Thornton Dial and Read My Pins: The Madeleine Albright Collection

Both groundbreaking exhibitions to be accompanied by special events

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (June 19, 2012) – Two exhibitions illustrating diverse and thought-provoking  views of what it means to be an American will open June 30 at Mint Museum Uptown. The community is invited to engage with the museum during special events associated with each exhibition.

The exhibitions mark the beginning of a spectacular lineup The Mint Museum will have on display when tens of thousands of visitors arrive in Charlotte for the Democratic National Convention in early September. More news of other exhibitions and special projects will be arriving in the coming weeks.

“The eyes of the nation and world will be on Charlotte soon, and the Mint is prepared to lead the way in displaying the depth and breadth of our city’s ascending cultural scene,” said Dr. Kathleen V. Jameson, President & CEO of the Mint. “We are proud to be able to bring two such significant exhibitions to our community and visitors.”

Hard Truths: The Art of Thornton Dial
30 June – 30 September 2012

“All truth is hard truth. We’re in the darkness now, and we got to accept the hard truth to bring on the light. You can hide the truth, but you can’t get rid of it. When truth come out in the light, we get the beauty of the world.” –Thornton Dial

An artist raised in the rural South, Thornton Dial is a keen observer of the human spectacle and its narratives of corruption and moral strength, folly and triumph. As an artist, he has spent the last two decades exploring the truth of American history and culture in all its complexities and contradictions. This exhibition presents a major survey of Dial’s work, an epic gathering of over thirty large-scale paintings, sculptures, and wall assemblages that address the most compelling issues of our time.

The Mint is kicking off the exhibition with a pre-opening reception, “Get DIAL’d In,” on June 27 from 6-10 p.m. at Mint Museum Uptown. The event will feature a performance by the Grammy Award-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops, and Dial himself is scheduled to be present as a special guest. Tickets are $50 for Mint members, and $75 for non-members, and proceeds will benefit the Romare Bearden Society, which supports acquisitions of works by African American artists. (

The exhibition and opening reception are brought to the community with generous support from Wells Fargo. “Wells Fargo is proud to provide major funding to bring this compelling exhibition to the community,” said Jay Everette, the chair-elect of The Mint Museum’s Board of Trustees and the Senior Vice President and Community Affairs Manager for Greater Charlotte for Wells Fargo. “And we are especially excited to host the opening community celebration. We invite our neighbors and friends to join in previewing these highly significant works by Mr. Dial.”

Added Brad Thomas, the Mint’s curator of contemporary art: “Since I joined the Mint team in January, it has been my distinct pleasure to work with our staff and many supporters on bringing this remarkable body of work to our museum. This retrospective exhibition shines a well-deserved light on one of the most original and prolific American artists of our time.”

The Mint decided to engage both its campuses in the exhibition. In addition to the large-scale assemblages on display at Mint Museum Uptown, a selection of drawings by Dial will be on display at Mint Museum Randolph, 2730 Randolph Road in Charlotte, in the Dickson Gallery for the duration of the exhibition.

Dial spent his childhood toiling in the farm fields of western Alabama, followed by decades spent as a laborer in the region’s factories and heavy industry. A working-class man whose art was weaned in the unheralded expressive practices of the black vernacular South, Dial speaks in a voice long overlooked in the canons of modern art and culture. Since his discovery in the late 1980s, critics have likened Dial’s complex and tumultuous creations to the renowned works of such artists as Jackson Pollock and Anselm Kiefer.

To create his art, Dial employs a vast universe of symbolically charged materials — from plastic grave flowers, child’s toys, bed springs, and carpet scraps to cow skulls and goat carcasses. Salvaged from garbage cans and trash heaps, these items reappear in dense accumulations amidst the artist’s fields of dripped paint and expressionistic brushworks.

Over the years, Dial has tackled a wide range of social and political subjects in his art, from gripping commentaries on the homeless, the abuse of the environment, and the failings of global capitalism to haunting meditations on the War in Iraq, Hurricane Katrina, and the tragedy of 9/11. Concerned with representing those otherwise rendered invisible within the contours of history, he has also created many works on the plight of women, labor, the rural poor, and the impoverished underclass. Still other paintings and sculptures examine the long history of racial oppression in America. Recounting the atrocities of slavery and Southern sharecropping, the aspirations of the Great Migration, the fight for Civil Rights, and other episodes in black memory, these pieces form a powerful anthology on the human struggle for freedom and equality.

A fully illustrated catalogue is available in The Mint Museum Shops for $45. In addition to the support provided by Wells Fargo, Hard Truths: The Art of Thornton Dial received additional support provided by Duke Energy. Hard Truths: The Art of Thornton Dial is organized by the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

Read My Pins: The Madeleine Albright Collection
30 June – 23 September 2012

During her career in public service, Madeleine Albright famously used her jewelry to communicate diplomatic messages. Read My Pins: The Madeleine Albright Collection reveals an intriguing story of American history and foreign policy as told through former U.S. Secretary of State Albright’s jeweled pins.

“I am delighted that the pin exhibition will be at the spectacular Mint Museum, particularly at such an important time for Charlotte,” said Secretary Albright. “This is an exciting time for Charlotte residents to share with the rest of the world the city’s rich and diverse cultural heritage.”

Albright will visit Charlotte in July for a series of events to promote community learning and engagement with the exhibition. On Friday July 13, following a media event at the museum, Albright will appear at a members-only reception at 6:30 p.m. (tickets are $150 per person, $200 per couple; attendees must be Mint members to purchase). On Saturday July 14, she will appear at a special educational program for invited local students before conducting a public conversation at Mint Museum Uptown at 1 p.m., followed by a book signing. Tickets to the public event are $20, or $10 for members. (

The collection that Secretary Albright cultivated is distinctive and democratic — sometimes demure and understated, sometimes outlandish and outspoken — and spans more than a century of jewelry design and fascinating pieces from across the globe. The more than 200 works on view are chosen for their symbolic value. While some are fine antiques, many are costume jewelry. Together the pieces in this expressive collection explore the power of jewelry to communicate through a style and language of its own.

Albright told reporters during a visit to the Mint in February: “My pin collection….would not exist if it had not been for Saddam Hussein.” Jewelry became part of Albright’s diplomatic arsenal in 1994 when Saddam Hussein’s government-controlled press referred to Albright, who was at that time U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, as an “unparalleled serpent.” At her next meeting on the subject of Iraq, Albright wore a golden snake brooch, beginning a career-long practice of using jewelry to convey and reinforce diplomatic messages.

“While President George H.W. Bush had been known for saying ‘Read my lips,’ I began urging colleagues and reporters to ‘Read my pins’,” Albright has said. This traveling exhibition is accompanied by the book “Read My Pins: Stories from a Diplomat’s Jewel Box” (2009), which is on sale now in The Mint Museum Shops ($40). Secretary Albright has given the world an opportunity to explore American history and foreign policy through the unique lens of jewelry.

Read My Pins: The Madeleine Albright Collection is brought to The Mint Museum through the support of Perry’s at SouthPark. Generous support for the original exhibition was provided by Bren Simon and for the exhibition catalogue by St. John Knits. Organized by the Museum of Arts and Design in New York.


Levine Center for the Arts is one of Charlotte’s key cultural destinations, comprised of Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture, John S. and James L. Knight Theater, Mint Museum Uptown, and Duke Energy Center. The Levine Center was made possible through the Campaign for Cultural Facilities, the support of the City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, and the generosity of the Leon Levine Foundation, one of the country’s largest and most impactful philanthropic organizations.

The opening of Hard Truths: The Art of Thornton Dial at the Mint coincides with the opening of America I AM: The African American Imprint at the Gantt Center. America I AM, on display 30 June 2012-1 January 2013, celebrates nearly 500 years of African American contributions to the United States. The exhibition was developed in partnership with Tavis Smiley and organized by Cincinnati Museum Center and Arts and Exhibitions International (AEI). America I AM is made possible by Wal-Mart, which serves as its presenting sponsor. Visit for more information.