The Great Migration (1994) Norval Morrisseau

The Great Migration
Norval Morrisseau
1994, Acrylic on canvas, 48 x 96 inches (Diptych)

When the history of the twentieth century art in North America is written, no chapter will be more dramat­ic or significant than that of the Anishnabe painters, the aboriginal people of the Great Canadian Shield.

In the 1950’s when it appeared that their culture was on the verge of being extinguished by the onslaught of the “white” civilization, there was a move by several individuals to preserve the ancient oral traditions by recording them in writing and in art. In so doing, the artist’s developed a unique style, indigenous, distinctive, graphic, with a rare potential for narrative and an innate primitive beauty.

By the very act of depicting legends, the artists defied cen­turies of taboos, and many interesting sociological events followed: a shift in the roles of shaman /artist/ hunter occurred in the Anishnabe culture; the art became a seminal force in a revitalization movement; and the entire Ojibway Nation, a people heretofore overlooked by the mainstream of history, was thrust suddenly into the spot­light glare of an art-loving public.”

Mary E. (Beth) Southcott
Author – The Sound of the Drum: : The Sacred Art of the Anishnabec