Untitled (Abstract Landscape), 1960, Tweed Museum, George
When the National Museum of the American Indian opened in Washington,
D.C. this past September, it honored George Morrison (1919-2000), a
member of the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. Eleven pieces
of Morrison' work have been lent by UMD's Tweed Museum of Art for the
year-long Smithsonian exhibition.
Morrison, an abstract painter and artist recognized around the world
for his extraordinary talent and vision, is featured at the museum in
a joint exhibit with Native American sculptor Alan Houser, (1914-1994,
Chiricahua Apache) .
Called, "Native Modernism," the exhibit features Morrison
and Houser, both prominent 20th-century Native artists. The exhibit
is a retrospective showcasing about 100 of Morrison's mostly abstract
paintings, drawings, sculptures and wood collages with a similar number
of works by Houser.
Many Minnesota museums and collectors have joined the UMD Tweed Museum
in loaning art to the show, including the Minneapolis Institute of Arts
and St. Paul's Minnesota Museum of American Art. The art spans Morrison's
career beginning in the 1950s with abstract drawings, to puzzle-like
wood colleges assembled in the 1970s, carved totems from his 1980s work
and his more recent Lake Superior "Horizon" paintings.
Morrison painted Lake Superior at different times of day in all seasons
and types of weather. He captured its many moods and spiritual qualities.
He said the lake was "a very powerful thing that changes by the
hour, like a living human being."
Morrison is one of the most recognized and influential contemporary
artists from Minnesota. "The Tweed Museum has one of the largest
collections of Morrison's work in the country," said curator Peter
Spooner. "Morrison had a special relationship to the Tweed. He
donated a number of pieces to us and considered the Tweed his own regional
museum. He felt strongly about having a representation of his work close
to his home. The museum is frequently contacted to supply Morrison's
work for exhibits and we are proud to lend this group of 11 works to
Collage IX: Landscape, 1974
The new National Museum of the American Indian strives for balance.
It's exhibits demonstrate the rich history and culture of the first
Americans. It also showcases contemporary native art and respects the
fact that 30 to 40 million native people now live in the Western Hemisphere.
The five-story museum took the last remaining spot on the grassy National
Mall between the Capitol and the Washington Monument -- a four-acre
site at the foot of Capitol Hill. It is the first new museum on the
Mall since 1987 and expects 5 million visitors a year. Exhibits will
include ancient artifacts, such as a 2,000-year-old ceramic jaguar clutching
a man between its paws, as well as works from modern Indian artists.The
museum also will regularly host storytelling, music and dance sessions
by American Indians and will eventually attempt to reach out to those
who can't physically visit the museum through an interactive Web site.
Posted Oct 18, 2004.