Northern Ontario art form pays homage to Native roots


An example of Ojibwe Woodland Style art on an advisory about safe fish consumption. Image: Journal of Great Lakes Research.

By Emile Rizk

The Great Lakes area has a vastly rich history, and with that history comes an immense amount of culture.

However, sometimes history is lost, and the test of time is not always kind to some cultures, especially those from the early Americas.

Woodland art is an effort to maintain and revitalize some of that lost culture.

It is a form of art whose early practitioners had one aim in mind: to reintroduce the once-lost Ojibwe culture in Ontario.

Heavily symbolic, Woodland art uses the vibrancy of primary colors to convey the ideology behind Ojibwe culture in the forms of animals, plants, people and even the land.

Norval Morrisseau, the founder of Woodland Art and nicknamed the “Grandfather of Native art in Canada,” was encouraged to paint when he was diagnosed with tuberculosis at age 23.

From then on, his work was displayed in the Pollock Gallery in downtown Toronto starting in 1962 and where Woodland art was cemented as a Native art form.

For more on Norval Morrisseau, who died in 2007, and the Woodland art style, listen to the podcast below.

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