George Morrison (Ojibway) b. 1919
"Red Totem," 1980
cedar, 12' x 20" x 2001
The Heard Museum, Phoenix, Arizona
made possible by a grant from Koll Company and Beta West Company
George Morrison has the distinction of being the only Native American artist
that has been recognized as an American artist. He abstract style was nurtured
at the Student Art League in New York City, where he was a participant during
the 1940s. Although he has chosen to work in an abstract style, he has drawn
from his childhood memories of growing up on the northern banks of Lake
Superior. Often his work references the horizon line, a powerful connection to
the land, the water and the sky. The horizon line as a recurring theme provides
structure and identity to his work and has become his signature. Morrison
brings together and explores the point where his cultural roots intersect with
his Euro-American art training. He has been able to create a synthesis of
artistic and cultural sensitivity. He has been able to use the medium of Modern
art to express himself as an artist who is Indian.
"Red Totem" is a magnificent monument and tribute to Native cultures.
His use of stained cedar, cut to fit together like a puzzle becomes the
embodiment of complexity resulting in simple elegance. The totemic structure
immediately connects to the many Native cultures which utilize this form.
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