Picasso Of The North
Norval Morrisseau

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Copper Thunderbird

The Man Behind The Brush

Norval Morrisseau, also known as Copper Thunderbird and the “Picasso Of The North,” is one of Canada’s most prominent Indigenous artists from the Anishinaabe Nation, the founder of the Woodland art style, and a member of the Indigenous Group Of Seven. His art acts as a reflection of his complex life and experiences, portraying traditional Anishinaabe stories, Indigenous spiritual themes and important political messages in his work.

Establishing A New Style

The Woodland School Of Art

As the pioneer of the Woodland School of art, Norval Morrisseau’s work reflects the traditions of the Anishinaabe people. This artwork features a bold, bright use of colours that depicts spiritual and cultural themes which include shamanism, nature and the Anishinaabe story of creation.

Today, many Indigenous artists have picked up Morrisseau’s torch, carrying on this unique style of contemporary Indigenous art. The Woodland style takes ancient oral traditions and transforms them into a visual representation, allowing the Anishnaabe worldview to be reintroduced to the world through more contemporary means. You’ll often find themes of the struggle between humans and animals, or physical and spiritual forms, along with imagery of duality and transformation.

A Friendship Is Born

Sponsorship In Jasper, Alberta

Throughout the ‘80s, EA Studios collaborated closely with Morrisseau after he had reached out to our founder Galal Helmy seeking sponsorship. The two became close friends while Morrisseau stayed and painted at our original Maligne Canyon Tea House location in Jasper until 1989, after which Morrisseau wanted to spend more time with his family and moved to the West Coast.

Every Morrisseau in our collection was painted during this period, ensuring every work is authentic. Some of these paintings include All Male Creative, As One Yellow, and Astral Cycle

Indigenous Art For Every Collector

Featured Works By Norval Morrisseau

Explore some of the vibrant and powerful works created by Indigenous Canadian artist Norval Morrisseau during his sponsorship in the 1980s with EA Studios in Jasper.

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A Lasting Impact

Norval Morrisseau’s Childhood

Born on the Sand Point Ojibwe reserve of northern Ontario in 1931, Norval Morrisseau was the oldest of five children born to Grace Theresa Nanakonagos and Abel Morrisseau. Almost immediately, he was sent to Sand Point reserve to be raised by his maternal grandparents, Moses Potan Nanakonagos and Veronique Nanakonagos, in accordance with Anishinaabe tradition. This would have a significant impact on his future work, as he was introduced to a blend of Anishinaabe traditions and legends from his Midewiwin shaman grandfather, as well as Catholicism from his grandmother.

Residential schools were still prominent at the time, and so Morrisseau was sent away again at the age of six to St. Joseph’s Indian Residential School in Fort William. In addition to being forbidden from practicing or even acknowledging his Anishinaabe culture and language, Morrisseau faced severe abuse, resulting in future trauma that would manifest through his art and his addictions. It would also contribute heavily to his vocal advocacy for Indigenous rights.

After two years at St. Joseph’s, and another two at a nearby school, Morrisseau returned to attend a public school near Sand Point. His past teachings from his grandfather returned in full swing, as Morrisseau took up interest in local birch bark scroll images and petroglyphs. He would draw sacred animals and spirit-beings such as Micipijiu and Thunderbird, without ever having received formal art training. This would become the foundation of Norval Morrisseau’s future art as he moved into his teens and adulthood.

Breaking Down Barriers

Norval Morrisseau’s Adult Life

Morrisseau received his second known name, Miskwaabik Animiiki, or Copper Thunderbird, when he was 19. After falling critically ill, his family arranged a healing ceremony where this new name was given.

Norval Morrisseau used his art as a platform to raise awareness around the struggles and injustices faced by Indigenous communities, as well as challenging mainstream views of Indigenous peoples to break down barriers. He wanted to make people feel happy through his work, while at the same time showing a representation of his culture to a widespread audience.

Throughout his career, he received numerous accolades and awards, including the Canada Centennial Medal. In 1962 at the age of 31, Morrisseau was the first contemporary Indigenous artist in Canada to have a gallery exhibition, which was hosted at the Pollock Gallery in Toronto. Since then, his work has been exhibited in galleries and museums across North America.

Rebuilding Awareness

Shining A Spotlight On Morrisseau’s Art

Norval Morrisseau's art is a powerful expression of Indigenous culture and history, which is why we believe that it’s important for all people to have the opportunity to learn about and appreciate this rich heritage. By sharing Morrisseau's paintings with the world, we hope to foster a greater understanding and appreciation for Indigenous cultures among the public, as well as helping to promote a greater sense of cultural understanding and inclusivity within our community.

We’re committed to supporting Indigenous peoples, communities and organizations - as part of this commitment we donate a portion of the proceeds from the sale of any Morrisseau painting to the Ojibwe Cultural Foundation, an organization dedicated to preserving and promoting Anishinaabe culture and its traditions.

A Piece Of History

The Seven

Professional Native Indian Artists Inc., was established in the 1970s as one of the first independently organized, self-managed collectives of Indigenous artists in Canada. The group consisted of Norval Morrisseau, Alex Janvier, Carl Ray, Eddy Cobiness, Daphne Odjig, Joseph Sanchez and Jackson Beardy.

Often referred to as the “Indigenous Group Of Seven,” this collective of diverse backgrounds paved the way for contemporary Indigenous art as we know it today, and even future art organizations such as the Aboriginal Curatorial Collective. They were advocates for the inclusion and recognition of Indigenous artists as well as indiscriminate access to art funding.

Opportunities Available

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To learn more about the works of Norval Morrisseau or to view some of these stunning pieces in person, book a studio visit with our team today. We look forward to sharing our passion for this artist with you.

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