George Morrison (Ojibway) b. 1919
"Red Totem," 1980
Stained cedar, 12' x 20" x 2001
The Heard Museum, Phoenix, Arizona
Acquisition made possible by a grant from Koll Company and Beta West Company
George Morrison has the distinction of being the only Native American artist that has been recognized as an American artist. He abstract style was nurtured at the Student Art League in New York City, where he was a participant during the 1940s. Although he has chosen to work in an abstract style, he has drawn from his childhood memories of growing up on the northern banks of Lake Superior. Often his work references the horizon line, a powerful connection to the land, the water and the sky. The horizon line as a recurring theme provides structure and identity to his work and has become his signature. Morrison brings together and explores the point where his cultural roots intersect with his Euro-American art training. He has been able to create a synthesis of artistic and cultural sensitivity. He has been able to use the medium of Modern art to express himself as an artist who is Indian.
"Red Totem" is a magnificent monument and tribute to Native cultures. His use of stained cedar, cut to fit together like a puzzle becomes the embodiment of complexity resulting in simple elegance. The totemic structure immediately connects to the many Native cultures which utilize this form.
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