Thornton Dial was born in 1928 in Emelle, Alabama. For thirty years Dial worked at the Pullman-Standard plant building box cars. Dial was discovered as an artist in 1987 by friend Lonnie Holley and art collector William Arnett, although he recalls creating, “things” out of salvaged materials since early childhood. He is one of the most notable self-taught artists of the last century, exhibiting work in major museums across the United States. Highly collected, Dial’s work is featured in numerous public and private collections such as The Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. After installing the artwork in July of 2014 the artist reflected on the Edmondson Park Public Art Project and the inspiration behind Road to the Mountaintop:
"I make my art for people to learn from, but I only have made one piece to go outdoors before this one. I loved the idea that people would be driving down the street and looking at my art outdoors. More people can see it that way and maybe understand what it is that artists like me think and are trying to tell people. The piece is about Martin Luther King and Civil Rights in some ways, but it is also about the struggles that every person faces if they’re a woman or a man, a black person or a white person, we all got to struggle to get up. That’s our job, our duty."