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The Dennos Museum Center

Copper Thunderbird: Works by Norval Morrisseau from the Museum Collections

Morrisseauseptember 20 - November 29, 2015

An exhibition featuring selections from the Dennos Collections presented in association with the "Indigenous Peoples Day" observations in Traverse City and at Northwestern Michigan College.

Norval Morrisseau was an artist know by many names and phrases. Born Jean-Baptiste Norman Henry Morrisseau, he was given the name Copper Thunderbird during an Anishinaabe renaming ceremony meant to cure him from illness when he was 19. After establishing his visionary style of the Woodland School of Art, some referred to Morrisseau as the "Picasso of the North." With thick black lines and bright interior patterns, Morrisseau's artwork was at first inspired by the many myths and legends of his Ojibwe culture. Later in life, the artist incorporated his personal struggles and religious imagery. As recognition for his work grew, Morrisseau became a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Art and the Order of Canada. In 2005, he became the first native artist to have a solo exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada. Morrisseau passed away in 2007 due to complications from Parkinson's disease. 

In 1963, the first professional exhibition of Woodland Art was opened in Toronto at the Jack Pollock Gallery. In the mid-1970s, Northwestern Michigan College exhibited the print work of many of the Woodland artists. During this time, Bernie Rink, then Director of NMC's Osterlin Library, acquired about 100 works for the college art collection, making it the second largest segment of the Dennos Museum Center's art collection.