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Port of Spain, Trinidad, 1901
Parry Sound, Ontario, 1997
Biography synopsis
Born in Trinidad to Canadian parents, Yvonne Williams returned with her family to Toronto in 1918. In 1922 she enrolled at the Ontario College of Art, studying sculpture and eventually painting with Arthur Lismer, Fred Varley and J.E.H. MacDonald. Williams took interest in stained glass and stayed an additional year at the college to focus on fine art metal and glass with teacher Grace Coombs. At the time this was a male-dominated practice, and Williams would become one of the first women to establish her own career within it. Initially she struggled to establish her practice but after a trip to Europe she came home determined to seek more formal training. In 1928 she traveled to Boston to begin an apprenticeship with Charles Connick, who became a lifelong mentor to her. She return to Toronto during the Depression and despite the difficult economic climate received commissions and built her own studio in north Toronto. Her studio was in operation for nearly thirty years and saw over four hundred commissions for both public and private spaces – churches, schools, hospitals and residences – across the country. She wrote about her field and was in demand as a public speaker and educator. She gave tours of her studio and invited clients to see how the work was made, interested in engaging others in artistic and studio process. Based on her observation of Medieval and Gothic tradition, Williams is said to have forged a unique, contemporary and influential style, contributing greatly to the development of modern stained glass in Canada.
Media used
Glass painting and staining
Ontario College of Art & Design (formerly Ontario School of Art), 1922 - 1925 (under Arthur Lismer, Fred Varley, J.E.H. MacDonald and Grace Coombs (stained glass))
Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC), 1957: Recipient of the Allied Arts Medal
Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, 1965
File & Archive locations
University of British Columbia - Fine Arts Library
National Gallery of Canada, ON - Library and Archives
Art Gallery of Ontario - Edward P. Taylor Research Library and Archives
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts / Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal, QC
Toronto Reference Library, ON
Hamilton Public Library, ON - Local History and Archives Department

Writings about
Baldwin, Judith. Industry into Art : The Yvonne Williams Studio 1932-71 and Beyond. 1992
Crawford, Gail. A Fine Line: Studio Crafts in Ontario from 1930 to the Present. Toronto: Dundurn Press, 1998
Fulford, Robert. "The Artist Behind the Window." Mayfair 28.12 (Dec. 1954)
Gannon, Mo. "Lives Lived - Yvonne Williams." Globe and Mail (Toronto) 24 Dec. 1997: A16
Kuprowsky, Helena. "50 Years of Modern Work." Canada Crafts Oct/Nov 1978
MacDonald, Colin S. The Dictionary of Canadian Artists. (Volumes 1-8 by Colin S. MacDonald, and volume 9 by Anne Newlands and Judith Parker) Ottawa: National Gallery of Canada, 2009.
McCarthy, Pearl. "Art and Artists." Globe and Mail (Toronto) Dec.12 1936: 12

Full text pdfs of exhibition reviews
Royal Canadian Academy Annual Exhibition.: (Montreal, November 21, 1935) "The Fifty-Sixth Exhibition of the Canadian Academy."  Montreal Star  November 22, 1935.  p.13.   Full-text pdf
Royal Canadian Academy Annual Exhibition.: (Montreal, November 21, 1935) Reynald.  "Le 56e Salon de l'Académie. A défaut de révéler des tendances neuves, le Salon garde une allure distinguée et une belle tenue d'ensemble. Plus de "bon ton" que de vitalité. Maints portraits."  La Presse (Montreal)  November 22, 1935.  p.19.   Full-text pdf
Royal Canadian Academy Annual Exhibition.: (Montreal, November 21, 1935) "Art Gallery Scene of R.C.A. Exhibition. Paintings and Other Works from Various Canadian Points Total 444. Much Good Portraiture."  Gazette (Montreal)  November 23, 1935.  p.19.   Full-text pdf
Art Association of Montreal Annual Spring Exhibition: (Montreal, March 19, 1936) "Spring Exhibition on Generous Scale. Show at Art Gallery Opened Last Night Contains 621 Items."  Gazette (Montreal)  March 20, 1936.  p.2.   Full-text pdf
Art Association of Montreal Annual Spring Exhibition: (Montreal, March 19, 1936) "Annual Spring Exhibition at Art Association."  Montreal Star  March 20, 1936.  p.8.   Full-text pdf

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