I know I'm not much around fandom these days, apart from RPing and the very-occasional fic. But today I heard that Norval Morrisseau died on Tuesday, December 4th, and I need to commemorate him here. Norval's work has inspired me for many years. He inspired what has been called by many a renaissance in Aboriginal, and indeed in Canadian art, giving voice to First Nations peoples and cultures at a time in Canada when that just wasn't done. His vibrant, sometimes turbulent, use of colours, strong shapes, and his controversial use of mythological and spiritual Aboriginal themes in his earlier work as well as images from his own personal battles and from Christianity in his later work ignite to create unforgettable, landscape-changing art.
He's been given the Order of Canada and the lifetime achievement award from National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation, and has had many prestigious and important shows both in Canada and around the world. His life was difficult, characterized by struggles with alcoholism and living on the streets, and later in life with Parkinson's Disease, and yet he always strove to be a role model. I was lucky enough to see a huge showing of his work at the wonderful McMichael Gallery
in Kleinberg last year, a version of the National Gallery's "Shaman Artist" show. I am someone who can do no more with art than admire it, being wholly unartistic myself, and I cannot find words to say how moving, disturbing, peaceful, violent, spiritual, thought-provoking the show was. Norval is my favourite artist, the pinnacle of creativity, of finding one's own style from within one's heritage, and of breaking cultural barriers to give voice to Anishnaabe art and Canadian art. Migwetch, Norval. Thank you for all you've done.