Star Song

Alice Olsen Williams

Jan 12 - Feb 16, 2019

Opening: Jan 12, 1pm-4pm

For close to four decades Alice Olsen Williams’ distinctive quilt making style has been grounded in the traditional skills of beadwork and sewing of the Anishinaabe people, and the unique symbols and themes of her culture. Alice sees her practice and labour as a connection to the work of women that has been done, and is still being done, through the ages and across cultures. Alice's creative vision in quilt design focuses on the central placement of animals and birds, which figure prominently in the lives of the Anishinaabeg, as well as the traditional floral motifs that Anishinaabe-Kwewag continue to use in their beadwork, quillwork, embroidery and other creative media. Surrounding her central designs are the conventional North American quilting blocks that were introduced by the first European Settlers, and continue to be developed by contemporary quilt artisans. Through her practice Alice combines the knowledge and appreciation of her Anishinaabe ancestry with new materials, to create wonderful expressions in cultural meaning, the healing arts and Indigenous activism.

Bio

Alice Olsen Williams is renowned for her unique quilted textile works that blend expressions of Anishinaabe beliefs and ideology with reflections on contemporary social issues. Alice was born in Trout Lake, 150 miles north of Kenora Ontario, Canada, in the traditional Anishinaabe territory of her mother's people for millennia, long before Euro-colonization. She received her teaching certificate from Lakehead University in Thunder Bay and taught there and at Pic Mobert First Nation before moving to Curve Lake First Nation. Alice completed her B.A. at Trent University in Peterborough, and with her discovery of the quilting process in 1980, went on to formulate the concepts which would be the basis for her distinctive style, and to master the beadwork and sewing techniques which allow her to create her meticulous hand-quilted designs.

Alice's quilts and wall-hangings have been included in exhibitions at the National Museum of the American Indian (Smithsonian), Michigan State University, the Thunder Bay Art Gallery, Wanuskewin Heritage Park and the Art Gallery of Peterborough, plus many other museums and art galleries.  She was the Artist-in-Residence at Trent University in 2007. Alice is also well-versed in indigenous knowledge and shares her wisdom with others through workshops and presentations. Recently she was the Visiting Elder for the SAGE Indigenous Graduate Students Conference at UBC.