b. 1927 in Whitford, Alberta, Canada
d. 1977 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada
William Kurelek is an artist of Ukrainian descent. Although Kurelek’s early interest in art was not encouraged by either of his parents, he would eventually study at both the Ontario College of Art & Design in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, as well as at the School of Art at Instituto Allende in Guanajuato, Mexico. In his mid-twenties, Kurelek was hospitalized for depression and schizophrenia. He diligently practiced art during his hospital stay, creating there The Maze, a work that would later become the cover image of Van Halen’s 1981 album, Fair Warning.
Kurelek, raised Ukrainian Orthodox, converted to Catholicism in 1957, upon which he began a series of what would become a hundred and sixty paintings depicting the Passion of Christ. Later, in Toronto, he completed a series of children’s books, both writing and illustrating them. He was the recipient of the Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator’s Award in 1976 for A Prairie Boy’s Winter and A Prairie Boy’s Summer. That same year, Kurelek was appointed to the Order of Canada.
Famine 1933, Ukraine, 1977
16” x 20”
Gift of Dr. and Mrs. John Halyckyj