About the Artist
Midwest born and raised, Tom Virgin has lived and worked in Miami since 1992. His work has been shown internationally in the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, Mexico, and New Zealand, as well as nationally from Portland, Oregon to Key West. He was awarded an MFA in 1994 from the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida. His BFA was earned in 1989 at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida. His work has been featured in 1,000 Artists’ Books: Exploring the Book as Art, U.S. National Park Service print and web publications, the Miami Herald, and Accent Miami.
Tom Virgin’s work has been commissioned by the Florida Keys Art in Public Places, the City of Gainesville Art in Public Places, Miami Dade College, and Miami Art Museum. He has received numerous grants and fellowships from artist’s residencies and other institutions including the Surdna Foundation, the State of Florida, Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, Creative Capital Professional Development, Tigertail Productions, the Ucross Foundation, Jentel Artist Residency, Oregon College of Art and Craft, the Anderson Center and U.S. National Parks. His work can be found in the the collections of the Walker Art Center, the Jaffe Center for Book Arts, the Bienes Museum of the Modern Book, the University of Miami Library’s Special Collections, the University of California’s Mandeville Collection, University of Denver, and Wells College.
When I arrived here, I made a beeline from the white sand beaches of Lake Michigan to the golden sand of Boca Raton’s Spanish River Park on the Atlantic Ocean. One could still find whole shells on the beach, and the coarse sand was warm and golden in color. As I stood in the shallow water in the sun, huge schools of silver pilchards and other bait fish would swim by taking minutes to pass. They would actually bounce off my legs as they swam by, tickling my shins.
Framing the scene were the ubiquitous Sea Oats (Uniola paniculata), literally holding the beach together. Today, the schools of fish are greatly diminished. Oceans are rising. Sea Oats and other dune flowers struggle to cope with the traffic brought by more and more beach goers. Treat these plants gently, they have a big job to do. Help me to introduce my grandchildren to the Florida I found four childhoods ago.