Dana Holst

Home: Edmonton, Alberta
Title: Our Son William
Media: Oil on panel
Dimensions: 36 x 28 cm
Website: danaholst.com

Artist Statement

Our Son William is a portrait of my friends George and Paul, their adopted son William and their beloved cats, Seamus and Awesome Jesus. Over the years I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know George, Paul and William during regular Friday night meals at a Chinese restaurant where we unwind at the end of each week with other good friends.

This painting came into being this year, as a belated way of thanking George for designing my beloved studio in 2002. Conceived as a formal portrait, I wanted to layer minute detail tenderly in their faces and clothing. What emerged is a defiant depiction of an alternative family unit. I wanted this piece to vibrate with psychological energy and love, to portray the complex inner workings of family. The red background was an unusual step for me, in that I decided to leave my normal ground color showing through without reworking it. Paul, who had been to my studio and seen my work in all stages of progress, made the suggestion to me, and it seemed like a natural progression/regression that worked wonderfully for the tone of the painting.

Our Son William asks the viewer to question love, family and societal norms in an honest, tender way, toward an inclusive future.


Dana Holst is a mid career Canadian artist based in Edmonton, Alberta, working primarily in painting, and drawing. Holst’s work is an ongoing investigation into the human experience, focusing on the self and its place within society. Themes of social stereotyping and power struggles between the sexes are habitual for Holst who obsesses with depicting the female experience.

Holst is currently working towards She’s All That is an upcoming solo exhibition at the Art Gallery of Alberta, curated by Kristy Trinier scheduled for October 2015. Holst’s work is included in private collections and the public collections of Alberta Foundation for the Arts (Edmonton, AB), Agnes Etherington Art Centre, (Kingston, ON), Art Bank (Ottawa, ON) and Glenbow Museum (Calgary,AB).