George Morrison was born of a proud Ojibwe family in Chippewa City, a mile east of Grand Marais. His mixed-blood family, and the times in which he grew up, perhaps combined to give him a different outlook than those on the reservation at Grand Portage. His family didn’t push Indian culture on him. The times told him to leave that culture behind, but he didn’t leave it. George himself said, "I am an artist who is Indian." He did something else of great importance in our small community. He helped to bridge the cultural/social gap between Indian and non-Indian. His stature within the community is a source of strength for young Indian children. Our high school is an art magnet school. George Morrison, Native American, native son, serves as a role model within our schools for all our students. He has made it possible for others to excel.
The strong influence of where he was from never left George. He may have gone to Paris, painted on Cape Cod, taught at Rhode Island, but he was always here. His life and his art came from a strong source, from everything that he was—-the trees, the seasons, the rocks, the lake. Emotionally he never left his Minnesota home. It can be seen in his art. With his art and his being he has influenced others. George was the type of a man who knew himself. He was an unassuming man--gentle, never critical, never known to boast, a quiet man, except for his art. He respected himself and his art, and was respected by others for the individual he was. While often in ill health, artistically he remained productive; "You know," he said, "there really isn’t enough time."
~Pat Lind Zankman, Grand Marais, MN
A Minnesota artist, through and through
George Morrison grew up in Chippewa City, a mile east of Grand Marais on the North Shore in northern Minnesota. In a sense he never left there, despite his many years studying and teaching on the East Coast and in Europe. To say that he was inspired by nature is an understatement--Morrison was consumed by nature, completely captivated by its vitality and changeability. In his wood collages, sculptures, and paintings, Morrison incorporated abstracted images of trees, rocks, rivers, and skies. "He may have gone to Paris, painted on Cape Cod, taught at Rhode Island," wrote Grand Marais resident Pat Zankman, who nominated Morrison, "but he was always here."
After graduating from high school, Morrison enrolled in the Minneapolis School of Art (now the Minneapolis College of Art and Design). He continued his studies at New York's Art Students League; in 1952 he received a Fulbright Scholarship that funded a year's study in Italy and Spain. He returned to the United States the following year and embarked on a teaching career that led to various schools, including the Rhode Island School of Design and the University of Minnesota, all the while maintaining his ties to home. "He did something else of great importance in our small community," according to Zankman. "He helped to bridge the cultural/social gap between Indian and non-Indian. George Morrison, Native American, native son, serves as a role model within our schools for all our students. He has made it possible for others to excel."
MMAA: George Morrison: Finding Abstraction
Minneapolis Public Library: The Arts at MPL - George Morrison
MMAA: George Morrison
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