Norval Morrisseau (1981) To be a Shaman

Answers within Questions…
  • What is a Shaman?
  • Why does a Shaman artist paint?
  • What is Shamanistic Art?
  • Why did Norval Morrisseau repudiate the Woodland School?
Below are passages from Scroll Two of the e-book, Woodland Gold, that consider certain possibilities. The fourth question is complex. Why do you think Norval Morrisseau repudiated the Woodland School? Was he justified?

When viewed as a personal or family talisman Shamanistic art empowers while it protects. Traditional pictographic art and birchbark scrolls are two-dimensional symbolic renderings that tell an archetypal story. A powerful alignment takes place in those who know how to interpret the colours and symbols in relation to one another. A vibrational sense of oneness with the archetype itself.

Shamanistic art is a creative response to a fundamental sentient need to maintain health and well-being. Through artistic expression, a Shaman calls into play the triple faculties of imagination, intuition and inspiration in order to commune with Spirit. The Great Spirit in turn extends to the tribe the power to consciously harmonize environmental forces. When appreciating Woodland Art in essence we join the tribe vibrationally, and through that connection discover the power within ourselves.

Shamanistic art primarily focuses on the relationship between the “Creator” and the “Created” using symbols to convey natural truths. Most artworks are two dimensional (pictographic) designs that one does not look into as one would a landscape. They are organic statements of inner harmony. Like ripples cast on still water, all symbols in a Woodland School painting have a relationship with one another.

The Woodland School taps into an instinctual wellspring of inspiration that requires no predisposed understanding to appreciate. Those who appreciate the warmth of pure colours will experience a sense of inner harmony and balance. Those with even a simple appreciation of the subject matter will enjoy a deeper respect for the ab’original’ in all people. as well as for the creatures of the environment. To those who can fully interpret the relational symbology, an enhanced revelationary empowerment is received.

Woodland Gold – Scroll Two