Ojibwe Woodland Style Masters: Norval Morriseau and Daphne Odjig

Boozhoo niijinkwenyaag!

I would like to talk a little about the school of Ojibwe Woodland Style art. The founder and father of this type of art is Norval Morriseau (Birth: March 14, 1932 – Death: December 4, 2007). Norval was the first Anishinabeg artist to have his work shown in a gallery in 1962 (Toronto's Pollock Gallery).  Norval's art was groundbreaking for indigenous artists, because it was the first time that Native art was looked at as art and not primitive doodles of "Indian children".  In 1973 Norval along with six other First Nation artists formed the Professional National Indian Artists Incorporation. They were monikered the "Indian Group of Seven" by the Winnepeg Press. The other founding artists were Daphne Odjig, Eddy Cobiness, Jackson Beardy, Alex Janvier, Joe Sanchez, and Carl Ray. This group founded the Woodlands School of Art which opened doors for countless up and coming Native/First Nations artists to create traditional art, utilize ceremony and stories into their art forms and be recognized as serious contemporary artists. For more information on Norval Morriseau and to view some of his artwork go to

http://www.norvalmorrisseau.com

For more information on Daphne Odjig and to view some of her artwork go to

http://www.daphneodjig.com

To view a video of a recent showing of Woodland Art at the University of Michigan and hear the work described in Anishinabemowin (the Ojibwe Language) by fluent speakers check out this video series of 3 youtube videos:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L80hg2KAR40&feature=share&list=UUxXkMRKnyxEXjqcQjpXwO1w

http://youtu.be/L80hg2KAR40

http://youtu.be/OFj_L1J9c7k

Mi iw

Boozhoo! Welcome to Makoohns Den Art Blog

Boozhoo Niijii! (Greetings my friend!)

Art Education

I have been drawing and creating art ever since I can remember, pretty much as soon as I had enough toddler motor skills to hold a pen.  I took one art class in middle school and a partial art class in college, and decided that I did not like thinking inside the box and decided to do my own thing and continue to hone my skills myself. I went through all kinds of stages, from practicing drawing my cat and other things around me, to drawing my favorite movie actors and heroes - John Trudell anyone? 

I spent alot of time  with my Nokomis, and learned some drawing, sewing, crocheting ,  I learned about the art fairs - selling art in booths from her. She really nurtured the creativity and artistic sense in me. As a child I spent alot of time with her, and I developed this thought, I wanted to learn all of these things so I could be a good grandma... so I would have something to offer that is hands on and not via the internet, something important, something you can lay your fingers on, your eyes on, hold in your hands... something real.

I also spent years drawing all of my own beadwork patterns and doing different kinds of beadwork: loom, peyote, applique, string/wire, square stitch, netting, and traditional way you make wampum belts without a loom. I also have done leatherwork, made shawls, learned black ash basketry the old way.... made my own rattle and learned how to carve a spiral drumstick out of sumac, I learned how to make sweetgrass baskets and barrettes too. Most of the time the things I learned, I learned how to do because I loved the artwork I saw, the beadwork and baskets, and could not afford to buy them and I thought hey, I will learn how to do that myself... so I can know something important that I can give back, so I can be a good 'noko' - and I did. Although this did not stop my want to buy every beautiful beadwork piece and artwork and basket I saw, it made me appreciate it that much more, and be inspired by all of the spirit that the creator of the piece put into it.

I do not have much of my beadwork or artwork as it tends to walk away after its created... it gets given away... I am trying to be better about photographing things before they find their way to a new home, and I'll try to keep posting those pieces on here.

Along the way, I became focused on how pictures convey meaning , how cultural symbols are created. Thus began a study of old art, and by old I mean rock paintings, cave drawings and ancient pottery patterns and old pieces of woven cloth and baskets. This meandering trail lead to my discovery of my favorite modern woodland artists; Norval Morriseau and Daphne Odjig. Their art matched pictures/stories I had dreamed... it made sense and spoke to my spirit. I had been drawing things I had dreamed and ceremonies I had attended, but seeing their art gave me the confidence to draw things as abstract, and not necessarily straightforward... like how things sometimes appear in the spirit world and dreams...with thick black lines with symbols that conveyed meaning to those whose spirits recognized them. I created five separate drawings over a span of several years that I ended up getting tattooed on my body, for they held great meaning for me and my journey in this life. Some of the people who saw my tattoos recognized their meaning -- it touched their spirit and they encouraged me to continue on with my art.

Inspiration

I get inspired by all kinds of things such as dreams, ceremony, songs, words, the way the light shines on something, the shape or curve of something, the way nature makes things appear just so---- like the way  leaves arrange themselves while floating in the creek, or the certain way the light dances on the tree branches as the wind blows them. I also get inspired by other peoples art... it might be the combination of colors that they used, or the perspective of a drawing or photograph, or the materials they used... I could go on for days, but hopefully you can see how this artist sees things.

Surprise! Creativity Happens!

I think that all of my art comes from the spirit world... and for those of you who don't believe in the spirit world... it comes from somewhere out there. Because there are days when I cannot draw a stick figure, and other days when I just start drawing on the blank sheet of paper and Surprise! something awesome comes out of the end of the pen/pencil/marker/brush. I cannot explain it, its like love.. it exists and it happens but how and when it will is up in the air!