Born in Dallas, TX in 1956, Randy Bolton received a BFA from the University of North Texas in 1978 and a MFA from the Ohio State University in 1982. Bolton has taught in many visiting artist positions across the country, including four years at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. From 1989-2002, Bolton was a Professor of Art and Printmaking Area Coordinator at the University of Delaware. In 2002, Bolton was appointed Head of the Print Media Department and Artist in Residence at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan. Bolton’s work has been widely exhibited in one-person, invitational and juried shows since 1982. Recent one-person exhibitions include “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, "Books of Nonsense" at Evergreen House in Baltimore, MD, and “Two Sides to Every Story” at Littlejohn Contemporary in New York. Recent group exhibitions include “New Prints 2008/Summer: Artists’ Commentary” at the International Print Center New York, NY; “I’d Rather Be Drawing” at the Dennis Morgan Gallery in Kansas City, MO; "New Prints 2004/Spring" at the International Print Center New York, NY; "Popular, Pop & Post-Pop: Color Screenprints, 1930s to Now" at the Philadelphia Museum of Art; "Look Out" at Revolution Gallery in Ferndale, MI, “Digital: Printmaking Now” at the Brooklyn Museum of Art; "Sculptural Prints" and “Digital Press: Artists Exploring New Technologies” at the Print Center in Philadelphia, PA and “Sight/Insight” at the New York Public Library. Bolton has completed artist residencies at the Frans Masereel Center in Kasterlee, Belgium; the Evergreen House in Baltimore, MD; the MacDowell Art Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire; Yaddo in Saratoga Springs, New York and the Camargo Foundation in Cassis, France. Bolton’s prints are in many corporate and museum collections including the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the Museum of Fine Arts – Boston; the Art Institute of Chicago and the New York Public Library. Bolton received a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Fellowship in 2000, an Art Matters Fellowship (NYC) in 1996 and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in 1989.
Bolton’s work is characterized by an exploration of images that seem familiar and comforting on first glance, but become strange and disturbing on further consideration. His prints borrow from and adapt the nostalgia-evolving illustrations of early children’s books and science texts. In their original contexts these pictures served as visual tools to help educate young minds about acceptable morals and beliefs. In his work, however, Bolton has reclaimed these illustrations with a more subversive intent. By digitally altering and recombining fragments of these old illustrations, new meanings are suggested in which an undercurrent of uncertainty or apprehension undermines the initial flash of familiarity and comfort. Images originally intended to reflect childhood security and innocence become ironic metaphors of a chaotic world that is threatened by forces beyond our true comprehension and control. Bolton’s work is about the power these illustrations have in shaping our view of the world as children, followed by the disillusionment that occurs when these images fail us as adults. Despite the seemingly amusing or flippant quality of the images he employs, there is an element of concern in Bolton’s work and a vague feeling that the valuable things in life are in jeopardy.