Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Ballad of Norval Morrisseau


© 2013 Duke Redbird (Photography)/Jay Bell Redbird (Painting)
/Click on image to Enlarge/

Norval, Norval, What's driving you?
Are the spirits talking?
Are the spirits coming thru?
Are they talking to you?
You've lived in the forest, all of your life
You've been hungry and you've suffered strife
And you paint with the blood of a thousand years
You paint the legends and you paint the fears
And you paint the birch bark and you paint the sand
And you paint your sweat with an ancient hand.

They took your paintings and hung them in town;
They took your body and flung it around,
So the world could see an Indian in high society.
They gave you a china cup filled with tea,
But you drown their pale faces in brown whiskey,
You painted their Jesus to expose their hypocrisy.

You've lived in their churches, you've known their jails
And you laughed when they said you had failed,
Your art will be living when they're all dead;

You took their green money and you painted it red;
You paint your canvas with a brush of pain,
You signed your works with an Indian name.

You're an Ojibway man, a child of this land;
An artist, a prophet with a torch in your hand;
A blueprint for seeing, and it's not for sale;
A harbour for living in the eye of a gale.
The people, they love you, and they know your truth;
The culture is yours; you can never lose.

The Algonquin nation is listening to your voice.
They're learning your wisdom and pride;
They're painting with a brush you passed on to them,
With a talent they no longer need to hide.
Yes, you've opened the doors and the windows too;
The spirits are talking;
yes they're coming through.

Duke Redbird


Duke Redbird's comment about this collaboration with his son Jay Bell Redbird (see image of the artwork above):

"I feel so blessed to be working with my son, Jay. I was there at sunrise, when the Great Spirit, revealed the magnificent renderings of the sun as it lights up the countenance of our Mother Earth. During a time of deep grief and mourning for the loss to cancer of my beautiful partner and soul mate, Lida, I sat by the lake and prayed suddenly the sky opened and the sun broke through and there on the horizon was two angels, I took the photo, and the sky closed. For the next 18 days I waited for the sun to rise and each day the universe blessed me with unbelievable beauty the paintbrush of the Manitoo upon the canvas of the sky. I passed these photos to my son and he has enhanced the glory of creation with a spirituality that passes all understanding. I am humbled and honoured to be so blessed and loved and to have my son Jay working with me. The medium is new, we call it Redbird on Redbird, Acrylic on Photo Canvas. The show itself is called Mourning/Morning."

November 7th, 2013

* The painting by Jay Bell Redbird on photo canvas (image by Duke Redbird) in this post: "Untitled", 24"x18", ©  2013 by Duke Redbird and Jay Bell Redbird

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