Center for Spiritual Care

Integrating Body, Mind, Spirit & Creativity

Center for Spiritual Care 20th Anniversary

Currently at the Center for Spiritual Care

Bonnie Bolton
The Unbound Imagination
November 2020
Call 772-567-1233 for an appointment to view
To learn more about Bonnie and view other works, go to her website,

Bonnie Bolton:  Imagination is Memory   

            When Bonnie Bolton was small she made sure to arrive at church early.  “There were six of us, and we marched in like ducks in a row,” she remembers.  “There was so much to see. I spent a lot of time studying the stained glass windows -- in detail.  I loved the colors, the shapes, the light coming through.  It was beautiful. When you entered you were in a place where you felt protected and safe.  It was all very important to me, and those early emotions remain with me even today.  It all comes back when I start working on a figure -- you’ll see a lot of angels in my work, guardians.  Crosses are very interesting to me.  I will wander away to a more playful side in my work, but I always come back to the angels.”

         Bolton’s spirit-cleansing collages and assemblages depend heavily on angel-like creatures who are unexpectedly accessible and impeccably crafted.  They are balanced by works radiating a kind of impish innocence and almost palpable joy. 

         None of this is new for her.  “I’ve been making these things forever,” she says.  “When I was three, my mother would help me build doll houses out of cardboard boxes.  She would cut windows in the sides and then I made paper drapes, little paper furniture and stuff like that.  So it all started very early on.  And then she taught me how to sew.  I started making clothes for my dolls when I was really young.”    

         Another early influence came in elementary school.  “I used to look forward to the holidays so much.  The nuns would always have you make a diorama to celebrate the day.  I couldn’t wait to be able to do something like that.  It was the thrill of my life.    And I would carry that diorama so proudly into school.  Of course, now I’m doing these shadow boxes and I really think that’s where it started.  I loved it so much.”

         But a series of family moves put Bolton in schools without art programs and her interests shifted. “It wasn’t until I was married that I started getting back into what you might call art.  I began drawing and playing around with water colors.  Nothing special, but I was always doing something.”       

         Eventually, the family ended up in Gainesville. Her craft work -- mostly whimsical, hand-stitched wall hangings -- sold well at the University of Florida’s annual shows and slowly, Bolton became part of the town’s vibrant creative community. 

         “That’s what made me want to go to school to learn more about making art.  I enrolled at Santa Fe College, which had a great faculty full of wonderful teachers.  I wanted to try everything, to learn everything.”  

         Again, however, life intervened and Bonnie had to wait to start the career she now knew she wanted as an art professional.  In the interim, she trained to become an occupational therapist and focused on making a living.  But not exclusively. 

         “I would sit at the dining room table at night to make greeting cards, which I still do.  From there I began to experiment with slightly larger pieces, collages.”  

         And a whole new world opened up for Bolton.  “Today, I feel I’m just full up to the top with ideas for things I want to create.  I feel like if you stuck a pin in me I’d just go phs-sh-htand all these ideas would come spraying out.  I have a conversation with someone and at the same time I can’t stop thinking about whatever it is I’m working on.  I pay attention but the channel never gets turned off.  

         “And everywhere I go I look for items, things, an old ticket stub, an old piece of this or that.  I love old photos, and I treat them with great respect.  Because we’re all going to be an old photo someday.  I feel these people are in a way still alive and I’m adding meaning to their lives. They had a history.  And when I take faces from different photos to use in a separate work, it’s as if I’m introducing all these characters to each other.”

         Indeed, this attitude of deference and respect is what sets Bolton’s work apart.  Her purpose is not merely to entertain us, but to remind us of the mysteries that surround us -- and to have us take them seriously.

Warren Obluck