Bolling on Virginia Literary Festival

Bolling entered the consciousness of American art early in the 1930s when a debate raged over the direction of African American art and the depiction of African Americans. His sculptures occupy a unique position among artwork created by African Americans in the 1930s and early in the 1940s. Working in small scale and in wood, Bolling created figures that transcend the arbitrary distinctions between “folk” and “fine” art by combining a keen observation of the human figure and realistic portrayals of the culture of Richmond’s African Americans. As Bolling wrote to James A. Porter in 1933, “Few things this side of Heaven give me the joy that carving does.”