Mishipashoo (1959) Norval Morrisseau

 
Mishipashoo
  – Norval Morrisseau –
Watercolor and pastel crayon on card, c.1959, 32″ x 36″
Collection of the National Museum of Man, Ottawa

NORVAL

The last time I saw you, was the first time
Live, in person
The man
Live, in person
The Artist
Live, in person
The Icon
Live, in person
The Shaman

I walked through your exhibition at the NAG
I felt wrapped in an ancestor’s blanket

You Norval, the great one
You Norval, the innovator
You Norval, the astral traveller
You Norval, set the pace

Was there a race?
For the artworld to behold
To acknowledge the work of your ancestors told
To help the artworld and public understand
The medicine in your paint…is what is at hand
Ahhhhhhhh…look at his colourful work
OMG she faints…
…cuz the paint …

His paint…his paint!!!
Norval’s paint, pushing to and fro
You push the paint Norval with Shaman flair
With ease and grace…oh!! how you care
You pushed the paint across this land
You pushed the paint into the universe
The gallery was full of mind!
The gallery was full of spirit!

Multi hues and figures much
All there on the canvas, or brown paper, blue
All there on the birch bark too
Back to the old stories told
In the land where the ancestor roll
In the land where that spirit lives old

Colour so flash…across the canvas told
Stories of creation and how the people roll
The spirit beings and bears
Xray vision, oh so bare!

A movement you created through art
Grandfather of contemporary Aboriginal Art
You painted the canvas and the gallery beholds
Upon their white walls you showed
An ancient culture painted by a shaman on his ancient homeland
Stories of the land, sky and water too
Complex inter-celestial beings sat across from me to!
That Indian thang! of supernatural beings
Visit our people and bring
Teachings to us to share somehow

You choose the paint
As the paint must
Tell the words of old stories told
Tell the words of land and water as they hold
They hold our stories and ancestors too
Land and water beings all over this place
They connect us to above and below
Ahhhhhhhhhhh….to behold.

Paint the words of those underworlds
Paint the words of those aboveworlds
Paint the words of those supernatural beings
They harken to you to show their appeal
To show they are real
To show they bring gifts with them
For us to live in a certain way

Who will sway?
And listen to land.
Who will sway?
And listen to water.
Who will sway?
And listen to song bird sing.
I swayed so long ago and now I begin.

Turquoise blue you paint the sky
Turquoise blue the being crawled
Turquoise blue that healed so many
Uplift, uplift to the land of plenty?

The land of plenty? What is that?
Have we seen that upon our land?
What happened really? I want to know.
From the north to those ugly schools you go
I learned your story through books
I loved your work through books
I heard people talk about their Norval encounters

The stories that I only heard
Of a man named Copper Thunderbird
Of a man whom walked so gently
Of a man who painted endlessly
Of a man who shook the artworld
Of a man who showed them so

Some got it, what this man has shown
I am altered from how yo shone!!
Shine Norval shine in the land of peace
You!!! up there now…with all those…
Entities?

What shall I call all those worlds?
Swirling, twirling and swirling so
All around us… there you go
The man Norval who created so

Dana Claxton – 2007

 
Agawa Petroglyphs
Ojibway
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