Copper Thunderbird is a play on canvases based on the life of Norval Morrisseau. Inside the power-lines which Morrisseau boldly defined in his art were the colours he experienced between his Ojibwa cosmology, his life on the street, and his spiritual and philosophical transformations to become the Father of Contemporary Native Art and a Grand Shaman. Appearing simultaneously in this multi-layered drama as a small boy, a young warrior and an old man, Morrisseau confronts his many selves over the Faustian destiny he encountered during his vision quest—a momentary terror that led to a life wracked by both triumph and ordeal, drawing his vibrant colours, both luminous and dark, from the life-force within him.
Norval Morrisseau is notorious for the life he has led, the company he has kept, the wives, lovers, parasitic drinking buddies and abusive family members he has had and passed through as if they were merely insubstantial phantoms. The paintings he has sold to buy another bottle of alcohol, to get through another brutal day, hang in galleries around the world, a phenomenon Morrisseau himself simply took for granted. Framed variously with the identities of Indian, Artist and Shaman, Copper Thunderbird interrogates both the stereotypes and the politically correct judgments that have manufactured Morrisseau’s public personae, creating a power-figure that transcends culture and morality, earth and water, fire and air.
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Alright Anyways artist AUNTIE THE NEWSCASTER AUNTIE THE NURSE begins to draw BOY begins BOY looks BOY walks breathe Bullheaded CALIFORNICATION GIRL THREE Chinese dragon closer colour Copper Thunderbird Cree deserve my paintings drink drunk DUMP BEAR THREE everything feel FLOODING ROOM CHORUS fuckin GALLERY ROOM CHORUS give goes gonna gotta grabs grandfather hand hear heat increases Indian JACK leave LEONARD COHEN light blue listen lonely MAN's Manitou Marie Clements medicine woman mer-man National Arts Centre NORVAL BOY NORVAL GRAND SHAMAN Norval Morrisseau NORVAL THUNDERBIRD WARRIOR OLD MAN begins OLD MAN looks OLD MAN Shut PICASSO scrolls selling shit Silence slowly sound spoken in Ojibway stands story suck takes talking TEQUILA things THREE NORVAL WIVES thunder tits trying VANCOUVER vision watches WEINSTEIN what's going whispers woman YOUNG MAN begins YOUNG MAN looks YOUNG MAN walks YOUNG MAN Yes