Tom Wilson: Beautiful Scars: Mohawk Warriors, Hunters and Chiefs


Tom Wilson, Kahnawake- The Long Road Home, oil on board 6’x 4’

BEAUTIFUL SCARS: Mohawk Warriors, Hunters and Chiefs

Artwork by Tom Wilson at The Grimsby Public Art Gallery
Curated by David Liss

Oct 4 – Jan 10, 2021
Exhibition Preview: Sunday Oct. 4, 2-4 pm
Celebration and Book Reading: Sunday Nov. 8, 2020*

Supported by:
The Acoustic Room
Anonymous donor
The Town of Grimsby
Ontario Arts Council

Painting is the meditation
The place I go to find and reinvent myself
Where I touch the hands of my ancestors
I am a Mohawk when I paint.
– Tom Wilson

Tom Wilson is best known as a Juno Award-winning singer, songwriter, musician and performer. Starting as a folk singer in the late 1970s, Wilson has performed in numerous bands and as a solo act, and has written songs for others. Driven by a restless creative spirit and an unflagging commitment to artistic expression, since the mid-1990s he has painted his distinctive visual imagery on guitars, amplifiers, canvas, board, and other surfaces. As an accomplished musician, writer and painter, Wilson is remarkably fluent in a range of media.

Tom was well into his fifties in 2015, when he learned that he was adopted and that his birth mother was an Indigenous Mohawk from the Kahnawake reserve outside of Montreal. This shocking discovery has had a catalytic impact upon his life and his art. In 2017 he released his bestselling autobiography Beautiful Scars chronicling his life growing up in Hamilton, Ontario, the evolution of his music career, his triumphs and struggles, and his coming to terms with the truth of his identity.

Tom’s visual art too has taken on urgency and renewed purpose. His recent series of works titled, Mohawk Warriors, Hunters & Chiefs, have become another means of exploring and understanding his history and his identity. Mostly the imagery consists of faces and masks vaguely resembling those of certain Indigenous cultures or perhaps beings from some other realm. They look at once ancient and futuristic. These are the warriors, hunters, chiefs, tricksters and shamans; the characters and figures that embody myths and legends of the past and the future; the stories that connect Tom to his culture and his place in the universe.

Tom Wilson comes from a long storytelling tradition and he has lived his life as a storyteller. The artwork featured in this exhibition is another chapter in his story. Beautiful Scars: Mohawk Warriors, Hunters and Chiefs was curated by David Liss and presented at the Art Gallery of Burlington in December 2018.

Out of our deep respect for Indigenous peoples in Canada, the Grimsby Public Art Gallery acknowledges that the gallery and the Town of Grimsby are located on the traditional territories of the Neutral peoples, the Anishinabek Nation, the Ojibwa/Chippewa and the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. This territory is covered by the Upper Canada Treaties. We recognize and acknowledge the contributions and enduring presence of all First Nations, Metis, and Inuit people in Ontario and throughout Canada. As settlers, we are grateful for the opportunity to be here and we thank all the generations of people who have cared for this land for thousands of years.

The Grimsby Public Art Gallery and the artist also acknowledge the support of the Town of Grimsby, The Department of Canadian Heritage, the Ontario Arts Council, the Canada Council for the Arts, the Niagara Community Foundation, gallery members and the Grimsby community.

About the Gallery
The Grimsby Public Art Gallery is part of the Town of Grimsby and serves the town, the Niagara Region and beyond with a regular schedule of exhibitions, programs and events. Located in the Library/Art Gallery building the gallery is fully accessible. Admission is free and everyone is welcome. For assistance or questions about the gallery, please call or e-mail.

GPAG Exhibition Details
Gallery Location

*Sunday Nov. 8th Celebration and Reading Event:
*Due to Covid restrictions the celebration will be by free pre-registration.
There will be three reading sessions over the afternoon.

Please email GPAG to book in for one of the sessions. Include your name, contact number and email. GPAG will confirm space availability.

Session 1 – 1:30 – Beautiful Scars: Mohawk Warriors, Hunters and Chiefs
Session 2 – 2:30 – Beautiful Scars: Mohawk Warriors, Hunters and Chiefs
Session 3 – 3:30 – Beautiful Scars: Mohawk Warriors, Hunters and Chiefs

We will do our best to book you with your preferred session. If the session is full, we will place you in the next open session and update you. You will be sent a confirmation of the booking with the Gallery Event details. Please note that we want the safest environment for all. Visitors will be required to wear a mask, social distance and complete the Covid Screening with our staff before entering the gallery.

Keep up to date & follow and like us on
Website: GPAG Exhibitions and Events
Facebook: @thegpag
Twitter: @TheGPAG
Instagram: @thegpag

For more information, please contact:
Grimsby Public Art Gallery
18 Carnegie Lane, Grimsby ON
L3M 1Y1 (905) 945-3246