Thursday, December 26, 2013

'The Ballad of Norval Morrisseau' by Duke Redbird


"Christ", 2-3 © 1974 Norval Morrisseau
/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


* The painting in this post: "Christ", 2-3, 37"x23", © 1976 Norval Morrisseau /Private Collection/

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