Where am I? Who am I? Why am I?
Zanvyl Krieger Main Building, 1st Floor Gallery
William Kurelek was born in 1927 to a Ukrainian farm family who had immigrated to the Canadian prairie lands. The eldest of seven children, Kurelek developed his passion for art at an early age, but was adamantly discouraged by his father to pursue his interest. Suffering from mental anguish, depression, and early onset schizophrenia, Kurelek was institutionalized in England for a period of four years as a young adult. After a suicide attempt, which he stated was, "at his parents' request", Kurelek converted from his Ukrainian Orthodox faith to the Roman Catholic Church. During this time, Kurelek produced several works inspired by the environment around him, his childhood on the prairie, and his new-found religion. While in Europe, Kurelek created a self-portrait as a blind man stumbling in the desert with a tiny dying tree in the background. The blind man poses the questions, Where am I? Who am I? Why am I? (also the title of the painting).