Norval Morrisseau and Harriet (Kakegamic), Beardmore, Ontario - 1962
Harriet inspired him in his work and taught him Cree syllabics, a form of writing used commonly in the North and reflected in Morrisseau's own signature of his works. Teachings of his grandfather Potan, joined with a series of dreams and visions, became the muses that Morrisseau said called him to be an artist. "My paintings are icons, that is to say, they are images which help focus on spiritual powers, generated by traditional belief and vision." Upon recovery, Morrisseau traveled to visit many traditional Ojibway villages and petroglyph sites, to nourish his artistic development and put it on canvas.
Over the next decade there would be exhilarating peaks of fame and monetary reward followed by valleys of impoverishment and neglect of his family. In the midst of this, some saw evidence of a deep affection between husband and wife. Others saw a very unequal relationship which allowed one partner to pursue his destiny and the other to attempt to raise six children with minimal support. The children were born from 1957-1975 as the family moved between Beardmore, Cochenour, Sandy Lake, McKenzie Island and Red Lake. Morrisseau reportedly enjoyed children and one large portrait of his daughter, Victoria, with his first grandson (click HERE), conveys pride and love. An interesting paradox is that in his art children are shown richly-dressed with looks of wonder and contentment, while his own children experienced neglect and poverty.
* Today, Norval Morrisseau has 7 children by direct bloodline, 18 Grandchildren and 13 Great Grandchildren.