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 Saul (John Saul) Williams  (1954 - )

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Lived/Active: Ontario/Manitoba / Canada      Known for: native painting-Woodland Art, graphic art

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John Saul Williams is primarily known as Saul (John Saul) Williams

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Ad Code: 3
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Bird and Fish, acrylic on canvas, 35.5" x 16", signed in syllabics, signed and titled on verso
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:

Saul Williams is a painter and graphic artist who was born in North Caribou Lake, Ontario, Canada.  He has also lived in Weagamow (1963) and in Sioux Lookout.  The three are all within 200 miles of each other, in north western Ontario, between Thunder Bay and Winnipeg, Manitoba.

His mediums are acrylic, silkscreen, watercolor, charcoal, ink, linocut and lithograph.  His subjects are myths, legends, symbolism, native spirits, birds, fish and animals.  His style is known as Woodland Art.  It is identified by black outlined figures, x-ray perspectives, vivid colours that are compartmentalized similar to stained glass, and usually a solid color (e.g. white) background.  Norval Morrisseau (see AskART) is considered the innovator of the style.   It is predominantly practiced by members of the First Nations (Indians) of Canada and the U.S.A. in the regions that border the Great Lakes. 

Williams is considered largely self taught.  In fact, he only attended regular school up to grade 8.  His art education consisted of Elliot Lake Summer School in 1970.  He is now a visiting art teacher to schools in his area of Ontario such as Bearskin Lake, Fort Severn, Weagamow, Pelican Falls, Constance Lake, Fort Hope, and Mitchell.

His only noted travel was a 1969 trip to San Diego, California of which he said, "It was like traveling through time."

York University (Toronto) had his first exhibition in 1971.  Since then the venues of his solo and group exhibitions have included the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto (1974, 76, 77, 83); the Oakville Centennial Gallery, Ontario (1974); the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Kleinberg, Ontario (1978 and 79); and the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (1984).  On October 24, 2009 the McMichael will be opening an exhibition titled "Woodland School", which will include the works of Saul Williams.

His work is in many private collections.  It is also in the collections of the Royal Ontario Museum; the McMichael Canadian Art Collection; the Canadian Museum of Civilization (Gatineau, Quebec); New College, University of Toronto; the Woodland Cultural Centre (Brantford, Ontario); and the Thunder Bay Art Gallery (Ontario).

As an important member of the first generation of Woodland artists his work is discussed in most magazine articles and books about the movement.  He is also listed in The Collector's Dictionary of Canadian Artists at Auction (2001), by Anthony R. Westbridge and Diana L. Bodnar; and in Art and Architecture in Canada (1991), by Loren R. Lerner and Mary F. Williamson. 


Prepared and contributed by M.D. Silverbrooke


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