Holm, Bill (1925 - 2020)




Bill Holm is recognized internationally as one of the most knowledgeable experts in the field of Northwest Coast Native art history. Holm received his B.A. and his Master’s of Fine Arts from the University of Washington School Of Art in 1951. He later went on to teach at Seattle’s Lincoln High School, returned to his alma matter (University of Washington) in 1968 as the curator of Northwest Coast Indian Art at the Burke Museum. Over the years, Holm has curated many exhibits while lecturing and publishing extensively on Native American art and culture. With Erna Gunther, Holm co-wrote the now classic book, Northwest Coast Indian Art: An Analysis of Form (1965). Holm coined terms such as form line, ovoid, and U-form which have become a standard part of the descriptive vocabulary in the field. Another of Holm’s significant contributions occurred during 1976 to 1977 when he traveled to major museums in the United States, Canada and Europe to photograph Northwest Coast First Nations Art objects. This project eventually produced the largest known collection of slides on the subject, which was an invaluable resource for students, artists, museum professionals, and researchers for several decades. Holm retired in 1985, but remains active, publishing, curating, and also creating his own artwork. In the spring of 1992, the Burke Museum hosted an exhibit of Holm's recent paintings: Indians of the Plains, Plateau, and Northwest Coast: Paintings by Bill Holm (March 19-June 28, 1992). He was honoured in 1994 with a Distinguished Achievement Award, given by the University of Washington to recognize distinguished alumni whose lifetime achievements have brought them national stature in their fields of endeavour.