Untitled (Thunderbird with Inner Spirit and Snake), 1972-1973
Norval (called Copper Thunderbird) Morrisseau
graphite on wove paper
37.8 x 18 cm irregular
National Gallery of Canada (no. 42198)
Copyright Norval Morrisseau / Gabe Vadas. Courtesy of Kinsman Robinson Galleries, Toronto.
These five drawings were completed in the early 1970s, when Morrisseau spent a short period of time in a Kenora jail. Part of a larger group of approximately 60 drawings on green wove paper; these works may have been studies for larger paintings. Familiar themes of spirituality, transformation, sacred power, and medicine provide us with an intimate insight into the artist’s mind and artistic process. Different from the larger, predominantly Christian-themed paintings created during the same period when paint and a separate space in the jail were made available; these works, created during times of solitude and intense concentration, reveal a sense of immediacy and the desire to maintain a cultural connection.