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Virginia Fouche Bolton (1929-2004) was born in Hartsville, SC and moved to Charleston when she was 14, attending Memminger High School. After graduating from Winthrop College with a degree in art, she married Don Bolton and they had five children together. In 1961 she began her teaching career at St. John the Baptist Cathedral School, later teaching at Moultrie, Wando, and Bishop England High Schools. She was tremendously loved by her students who continuously won art awards throughout South Carolina, many of them developing careers on their own as artists and teachers.
During her teaching career she began to paint professionally and in 1976 she and Don opened an art gallery to showcase her art on Meeting Street. As one of Charleston’s finest artists, her ability to capture the unique throb of the city and some of its citizens won her acclaim from both artists and laymen. She created paintings with a glow of diffused translucent light that seems at times both awesome and ethereal. Her sensitive and colorful renditions of cityscapes and flower women have long been favorites of people who wished to carry with them some tangible proof of the Charleston with which they fell in love while visiting.
In 1972, she was the recipient of The Charleston Scientific and Cultural Educational Fund Award, which allowed her to spend two months in Greece to paint. She continued to win numerous local and national awards, and was accepted into the Southern Watercolor Society three times. In 1981 she received a Masters in Art Teaching degree from Rhode Island School of Design in 1981, concentrating her studio work on stone lithography and etchings.
Mrs. Bolton and Don moved to Edisto Island in 1981, and it is there that she found so much inspiration for her paintings. The marshes, woods and beaches were her daily stomping grounds, and she befriended many of the local people who became subjects for so many of her paintings. Painted with compelling compassion, these were faces mellowed by a lifetime of bittersweet experience.
But her art reached beyond capturing scenes and people we see each day – things so obviously inspiring and typical of this city that one cannot resist painting them or capturing them on film. Her eye captured theses scenes, but filtered through the vision of her compassion and warmth, the works take on a personality larger than the subjects themselves. “Sometimes I am surprised,” she said, “by what emerges, the effects one achieves almost without knowing how they happen.” Her works are filled with magnificent moments where the artist’s intention becomes inspiration.
Although she is mostly remembered for her passionate teaching style, and her ability to render her vision of beauty as an artist, those closest to her knew that her religion – her devotion to God and Christ, was what she cherished most, and the foundation of her life. As a personal remembrance of her love, she began signing all her paintings with a small cross in front of her name. “I hope that everything I do, glorifies His name.”