Hommage to Norval Morrisseau

This is my latest mural, an hommage to Norval Morrisseau.

It was produced by @mumtl for @mbamtl special thanks to our partners for making it happen – arrondissement de Ville Marie, Ville de Montréal, Destination Centre- Ville, le Musée des beaux arts de Montréal and to my lovely assistant @corinne_lachance.

MU is a charitable non-profit organization whose mandate is to transform Montreal’s public spaces by creating murals that are rooted in local communities. MU’s projects are designed to promote the democratization of art and local development. Over the past seven years, MU has produced 70 large-scale murals in 15 neighbourhoods of Montreal.

In order to revitalize this heavily vandalized sector, MU initiated the creation of murals on the theme of fine art that have a graffiti or “street art” aesthetic. I was asked to do the first intervention, a stylistically influenced by Norval Morisseau, an artist whose works are held in the Museum of Fine Arts’ permanent collection.

Norval Morrisseau (1932 – 2007) was an Aboriginal Canadian artist. The subjects of his art were the myths and traditions of the Anishnaabe people, the cultural and political tensions between native Canadian and European traditions, his existential struggles, and his deep spirituality and mysticism. His style is characterized by thick black outlines and bright colors.

During his incarceration, he attended a local church where he was struck by the beauty of the images on stained-glass windows. Some of his paintings, like Indian Jesus Christ, imitate that style and represent characters from the Bible with native features.

He was known as the “Picasso of the North”. He founded the Woodlands School of Canadian art and was a prominent member of the “Indian Group of Seven”.

At the age of 19, Morrisseau became very sick. He was taken to a doctor but his health kept deteriorating. Fearing for his life, his mother called a medicine-woman who performed a renaming ceremony: She gave him the new name Copper Thunderbird.

According to Anishnaabe tradition, giving a powerful name to a dying person can give them new energy and save their lives. Morrisseau recovered after the ceremony and from then on always signed his works with his new name using Cree syllabics.

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