==Woodland School of Art==
==A continuation of ancient traditions==
==Creation of the art==
|Untitled acrylic on moose hide by Norval Morrisseau/Miskwaabik Animikii (year unknow: probably in the nineties.)|
Morrisseau’s personal vision and intense commitment to his art and his community provided the catalyst for the style. He learned Ojibwe history and culture primarily from his grandfather Moses "Potan" Nanakonagos and later collected traditional narratives from his people in the 1950s. This oral and pictographic history provided subject matter for his paintings, and he drew upon dreams and visions.
I was born in 1959, the same year Norval Morrisseau started painting and it was he who opened my eyes - and those of many other artists - to a separate reality - and eventually inspired me into creating jewelry designs in the Native Woodland style. For this reason I will always be greatly indebted to Noval Morrisseau, and he will be remembered for his trailblazing influence on the art world, inspiring many Native artists and countless folks in generations to come. Anishinaabe painter Simone McLeod, who was born two years later, has an akin experience and similar thoughts on the subject:
"When I began painting in the mid-nineties it was quite the experience to sit and feel a heavy heart at what I believed to be "revealing the ceremonial secrets of my people". It was then that I recalled hearing about . I remember that when I heard others speaking of him they always seemed to be focused on his subject and less on him as the . I cannot imagine how alone and in turmoil he may have been in feeling this need to share the "old ways" publicly. Perhaps he was before his time in seeing that one day media outlets would be thee best way to reach out and help our lost Peoples recognize the spirituality of his work and therefore begin the stirrings to search within ourselves and find the spirit memory that has been our way since the sun first shone. I as an and as an Anishinaabe woman, will be forever indebted to him for reawakening within me, my path, my memories, my history and my duty as a storyteller and artist and to carry on , on the road he started walking down. His footsteps blazed a trail that will be forever easier for the next one who chooses to follow it."**
Toronto-based Nakawe-Ojibwe artist Robert Houle, who was a close friend of Morrisseau's, once wrote:
“Norval, like all innovators, had made a trajectory to contemporary cultural theory, an idea I was not to understand until quite recently. It situated Norval at the centre of a cultural transformation, contemporary Ojibwa art. This legendary artist had created a visual language whose lineage included the ancient shaman artists of the Midiwewin scrolls, the Agawa Bay rock paintings and the Peterborough petroglyphs. As a master narrator, he had a voice that thundered like the sentinel of a people still listening to the stories told since creation.”
Morrisseau himself once said about his art: "All my painting and drawing is really a continuation of the shaman's scrolls". Ojibwe intaglio, pictographs, petrographs (rock art), birch bark incising, and birch bark scrolls, Wiigwaasabak, all brought together in the Anishinaabe term ''mazinaajimowin'', were stylistic antecedents of the Woodland style.
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* Source: Amelia M. Trevelyan, Continuity Of Form And Functions In The Art Of Eastern Woodlands. The Canadian Journal of Native Studies IX, 2 (1989): 187-203.
**Source: Fisher star Creations, The Influence Of Norval Morrisseau On Our Art.
About the author/artist:
Zhaawano Giizhik, an American currently living in the Netherlands, was born in 1959 in North Carolina, USA. Zhaawano has Anishinaabe blood running through his veins; the doodem (clan) of his ancestors from Baawitigong (Sault Ste. Marie, Upper Michigan) is Waabizheshi, Marten. As an artist, a writer, and a designer of Native American jewelry and wedding rings, Zhaawano draws on the oral and pictorial traditions of his ancestors. In doing so he sometimes works together with kindred artists.