Progressing from a student, concentrating on absorbing foundational skills and techniques to an intentional, expressionistic painter, Julia Elizabeth Tolbert spent twenty years of her life creating art. Using formal educational opportunities as a way to escape the life intended for her, she found art to be a freeing and meaningful endeavor. She experimented greatly in both style and medium, working with movements such as the Ashcan school, Regionalism, and Cubism and creating works in watercolor, oil, encaustic, pencil, clay, and more, all in pursuit of a professional artistic career. Though physical and visual limitations ultimately prevented her longterm success, Tolbert received her Master in Fine Arts from the University of Georgia, where she worked with the school’s influential department head, artist Lamar Dodd, and exhibited with the Greenville Fine Arts League (later the Greenville County Museum of Art), the Southern States Art League, and the Carolina Art Association (later the Gibbes Museum of Art), earning several awards and honorable mentions over the years. In 1951, her work, Houses of Athens, a gouache, was purchased by the Gibbes Gallery (now Museum) as a notable example of contemporary Southern art. Today, the largest collection of her work, more than three hundred pieces, resides in the Wofford College Fine Arts Collection where her family generously placed it so that it may be seen, studied, and appreciated. Emerging from the artistic journey of Julia Elizabeth Tolbert is the story of a creative and independent woman working against the arduous currents of chauvinism and provincialism to produce art for all viewers.
Woodson, Julie L., "Art for All: The Artistic Journey of Juila Elizabeth Tolbert" (2018). Student Scholarship. 18.