of indigenous art
A Spiritual Journey
a William Monague retrospective
December 16, 2023 - March 1, 2024
Gallery is Open: Tuesday to Friday 10am - 4pm
William Monague, 1956 - 2019
William grew up with the people of Chimnissing on Christian Island. With no access to formal training in the arts, he was inspired by the traditional teachings of Mother Earth, the Spirit World and by the beauty of the Georgian Bay shores that surrounded him. This is the first exhibition of his artwork since his passing in October 2019.
William started to draw as a child at Christian Island RC Day School, where he used pieces of coal he found during his time in the furnace room. These drawings were noticed by many people in the community including Joe Sylvester, a community elder, who then took William under his wing and began to share Anishinaabe teachings with him and encouraged his art.
When William was at Midland Secondary School, Fran Wraith, a teacher at MSS, recognized William’s talent and commissioned a painting from him. This was William’s first sale. Fran had shown him that he could have a career in the arts. He left home to pursue his career, following the pow wow trail, painting regularly, and selling his art.
By the early 1980’s, William had moved back to the Midland area. He was commissioned to paint a series of murals in the Georgian Bay Native Friendship Centre and this helped to establish his reputation as an artist. Many commissions followed.
Within the Anishinaabe traditional roles William understood that his role was that of a teacher; mentoring other artists and running workshops for Indigenous youth across Ontario. His artwork has inspired many Indigenous artists in the generations that have followed him.
William Monague's art brilliantly illuminates the beauty of Indigenous culture. Through each painting, Monague invites us to walk the path he tread, where the shores of Georgian Bay meet the echoes of ancestral wisdom. His brush, guided by the hands of heritage, leaves an indelible mark, reminding us that art is not just about what is created but also about the spirit that carries it forward. In the tapestry of Indigenous art, William Monague's contribution is a vibrant thread, weaving tales of resilience, connection, and the boundless power of creative expression.