BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION AND ARTIST STATEMENT:
Randy Bolton is known for his innovative work as a print artist and teacher. Bolton received a BFA from the University of North Texas and a MFA from the Ohio State University. Bolton has taught in a number of teaching positions across the country, including four years as a visiting artist in printmaking at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. From 1989-2002, Bolton was Professor of Art and Printmaking Area Coordinator at the University of Delaware. From 2002-2016, Bolton was the Head of the Print Media Department and an Artist in Residence at Cranbrook Academy of Art. Bolton currently lives and maintains his full-time studio practice in Fayetteville, TX.
Working with representational images that are paired or grouped together to form abbreviated pictorial allegories or narratives, Bolton employs a kind of visual metaphoric language that is familiar, direct, and accessible on the surface, but one that is layered to have a more subversive subtext that is rich in double-meanings and ambiguities. His work reflects an abiding interest in literary works (especially fiction), narrative construction devices, and storytelling conventions. In recent years, Bolton’s prints have literally come off the wall to become freestanding or sculptural versions of his earlier wall-based screenprints and digital banners. In his most recent series of sculptural prints, the objects have been cast from rubber molds of real objects using UltraCal, a plaster/concrete-like material. The cast objects have been hand-painted and airbrushed to fool the eye in a distressed, faux-folksy style. At first glance, these objects appear “real” in terms of their surface appearance, but a closer look reveals that they are actually artful simulacra. Rather than borrowing from old children’s book illustrations (as in his earlier work), Bolton’s recent images are based exclusively on photographic or documentary evidence – from photos taken on his iPhone of rather ordinary or quotidian subject matter – the kind of forlorn-looking things that are seen and observed in the “real” world, which are then reworked and re-assembled into fictional, hyper-real, stage-like settings. Bolton’s recent sculptural prints introduce a different kind of open-ended, associative narrative structure – one that more fully merges fiction with reality – and one that is reconstructed from a collection of metonymic fragments in which the many seemingly unconnected, unrelated images and objects represent parts of a larger, and not yet defined whole.
Bolton’s work has been widely exhibited in hundreds of one-person and group shows since 1982 throughout the USA, and in Europe and Asia. Recent one-person exhibitions include: “Flicker + Fade” at the Lawndale Art Center, Houston, TX; “Have a Terrific, Great, Nice, OK Day” at the Kittredge Gallery, University of Puget Sound, Tacoma, WA; “Scene Better Daze” at Gallery II, Washington State University, Pullman, WA; “Nothing More; Nothing Less” at the Anderson Gallery, George School, Newtown, PA; “Twice-Told Tales” at the Cranbrook Art Museum in Michigan; "Things Are Rarely What They Seem" and “Chase, Tumble, Slide” at Schmidt/Dean Gallery in Philadelphia; and “Two Sides to Every Story” at Littlejohn Contemporary in New York. Recent group exhibitions include: "Augmented Reality" at Blue Star Contemporary, San Antonio, TX; Topsy Turvy: Randy Bolton + John Schulz, Edinburgh College of Art, Edinburgh, Scotland; “Free Radicals: Remixing History Through the Power of Print” at the Katherine E. Nash Gallery, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN; “Pull” at the Weems Gallery, Meredith College, Raleigh, NC; “Animatopoeia: A Most Peculiar (Post Modern) Bestiary” at the Galleries at CSU, Cleveland State University, Cleveland, OH; “Encountering Nature”, at the Center for the Arts Gallery, Towson University, Towson, MD; “Nowhere Backwards: Randy Bolton, Michael Krueger, and Tom Reed” at Des Lee Gallery, St. Louis, MO; “The Cat, the Dish, and the Spoon” at Wonder Fair, Lawrence, KS; “Once Upon a Time: Prints and Drawings That Tell Stories” at the Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, MI; “Wit, Wisdumb, and Worry” at the Ann Arbor Art Center, Ann Arbor, MI; “No Object is an Island” at the Cranbrook Art Museum, Bloomfield Hills, MI; "Popular, Pop & Post-Pop: Color Screenprints 1930s to Now" at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, “Digital: Printmaking Now” at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, “Digital Press: Artists Exploring New Technologies” at the Print Center in Philadelphia and “Sight/Insight” at the New York Public Library.
Bolton’s prints are in many museum and corporate collections including the Akron Art Museum, the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts - Boston, the Art Institute of Chicago, the New York Public Library, Fidelity Investments in Detroit, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, and Children’s Hospital of Michigan. He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and Art Matters (NYC). He has completed artist residencies at the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, the Evergreen House in Baltimore, MD, the Camargo Foundation (Cassis, France), and the Frans Masereel Center (Kasterlee, Belgium).