Virginia Shirley

Virginia Shirley started on her path to become an artist the very moment she put on her daddy’s discarded dress shirt, buttoned up the back as a smock, and her kindergarten teacher placed a big paintbrush in her hand, pots of color in front of her, and clipped a large sheet of white butcher paper on the easel.  In school, she cultivated friendships with her art teachers, posed for their painting classes on Saturday mornings and built clay pots and sculptures through a summer program of the Alabama State Council on the Arts.  She graduated from the University of Alabama’s New College program with extensive art experience and a degree in Southern Culture. Virginia worked in arts and cultural programs, including as program director of the Mississippi Arts Commission and executive director of the Greater Jackson Mississippi arts council.  Over the past 15+ years Virginia has won numerous awards and shown her work in galleries, museums and exhibitions throughout Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Florida. Her work was selected for the permanent collections of Cottonlandia Museum in Greenwood, MS and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Taiwan, Republic of China. With roots deep in Alabama, Virginia’s experiences on the island go back to summer visits to the old Holiday Inn, destroyed by Hurricane Frederick in 1979.  She and her husband, the writer and businessman Philip Shirley, have a place on the water next to the Dauphin Island Marina.  They are on the island every spare minute, except maybe during football season in Alabama.