Monday, April 19, 2010

The Sculpture of Norval Morrisseau by Stratford, Ontario artist Susan Murar (Part I)


Susan Murar with her masterpiece "Portrait of Norval Morrisseau"
© Photography by Helen Harrison /Click on image to Enlarge/
"I am honouring his gift to the people of the world"~ Susan Murar

Stratford, Ontario is a city that invites the imagination to thrive. Many wonderful artists call Stratford home. Not only the theatrical and musical arts flourish here, but visual arts of all types abound.

On my walk home today I saw one of my neighbours out creating a new garden. I stopped to chat and she invited me in to see her finished sculpture. It stands 8 feet tall and is a 3D portrait of Norval Morrisseau, an Ojibway artist and Shaman who is considered by many to be one of Canada's most original and important artists.

When he was 19, Norval Morrisseau recovered from a severe illness after a mystic ceremony performed by a medicine woman, where he was given the name Copper Thunderbird. In the late 1950's he became sick again with tuberculosis and met his wife Harriet Kakegamic in a sanitorium in Thunder Bay. She taught him to sign his artwork as Copper Thunderbird in Cree syllabics.

My artist neighbour, Susan Murar, has captured the dichotomy of the face of the thunder bird interwoven with that of the artist. I was captivated by the sculpture's eyes and the intricate details that pull images from his artwork. Back and front, both sculptures in the set display a wonderful array of Ojibway legends.

If you are ever passing through Stratford do take the time to look up artist Susan Murar. She is a fascinating and talented woman. The statue, by the way, is created from white plasticine - still awaiting its final bronze cast.-

Helen Harrison - a Christian singer, freelance writer, and speaker from Stratford, Ontario

Visit her blog at My Stratford! a fond look at Stratford, Ontario

* Used with permission

NOTES: Susan Murar - former owner of the Stratford Brass Rubbing Museum and Gallery - stated that she had always admired Norval Morrisseau’s work and that he had really influenced her as an artist. After Norval Morrisseau died in December 2007 she knew she found the perfect subject for a large-scale portrait sculpture she had been looking for a long time. That started a two year journey which included plenty of research into Norval Morrisseau’s body of work.

"Norval Morrisseau created art that will be around for centuries to come and that’s how she wanted to portray him as the artist, not taking into consideration the smallness we all have in our lives and added that everyone has a core of hope and promise, and it’s connected to your heart and your spirit being. If you know that about yourself you can go over a bridge and find it in somebody else."

She designed the sculpture so that when a parent holds a child in their arms for a closer look, the child is eye-to-eye with Norval Morrisseau.

The arrangements for this portrait of Norval Morrisseau had been made to be showcased at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, but unfortunately Susan Murar was not able to complete the sculpture in time.

'Stratford Gazette' article by Tori Sutton; Blog Master's conversation with Susan Murar



Anonymous said...


Michael Moniz

Spirit Walker said...

Congratulations Susan for Inpirational artwork that's honouring Norval Morrisseau gift to the people of the world...

It's truly a MASTERPIECE!

Anonymous said...

That is a serious piece of artwork. Its nice to finally see his works brought to 3D. This has been a dream of mine for along time. Thank you for sharing this with the world.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations to Susan! This artwork is surely to become a master in today's artworld. Is it to be on display or is it a private piece for sale by the artist.
Well don Susan.

Andrew Hoptins

H Harrison said...

Thank you, Spirit Walker, for picking up my blog entry and sharing it with your readers. I am so happy that Susan is getting this wider exposure for her artwork.

Helen Harrison

Anonymous said...

Thank you Susan for honouring the Great Copper Thunderbird the way he deserves to be honoured.
Kudos to Spirit Walker for presenting it for the World to see.


Spirit Walker said...

Today, the following is sent to me by Susan R. Murar:

"Dear Ugo Matulic/Spirit Walker:

Greetings from Stratford. I am sending you information about the process of sculpting the MORRISSEAU and some information about myself as you requested. My resume is too long, so I have a truncated version as you will see.

I hope that the photographer Lucinda Jones has had the time to send you her photographs-we selected 16, as she is a very busy person. I do not want to call her on the weekend to find out, if you are so inspired please call me and leave a message if you have received them.

I saw the blog and went to the library to look up information about you, and your MORRISSEAU blog. Impressed-somebody has to be honestly passionate about MORRISSEAU and a future for his life work, and if you have the capacity then your abilities in this regard will influence, in a very positive way, the future as well as the past- I have been taught that our influence in the universe is beyond imaginings, however those of us who are more transcendent must keep this always in our thoughts and, actions as each moment speaks to us.


Susan Murar/ZUSKA GEVURAH-Woman with Courage"

Thank you Susan for kind words and art you had created in Honour of the Great Copper Thunderbird.

Miigwetch, SW