Artist of the Month | June 2019

George Morrison.jpg

George Morrison

Wah Wah Teh Go Nay Ga Bo

"Standing in the Northern Lights"

George Morrison was one of Minnesota’s most famed artists of the 20th century. He was recognized throughout the world as a painter, sculptor, and teacher. His artwork was shaped by his life along the North Shore of Lake Superior and by his Ojibwe heritage. It is clear when viewing his work that he had a connection with the contemporary American, Native American and European art movements as well.

George Morrison was born in 1919 in Chippewa City, Minnesota, just east of Grand Marais. George's paternal grandfather co-founded Chippewa City's St. Francis Xavier Church which was built in 1895. The church is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is operated by the Cook County Historical Society.

George graduated from Grand Marais High School in 1938 and continued his studies at the Minneapolis School of Art, graduating in 1943. The college is now known as the Minneapolis College of Art & Design (MCAD). Through a scholarship from the college, George was given the opportunity to study at the Art Students League of New York in New York City where he pursued his passion for the arts until 1946.

George continued to reside in New York and was greatly involved in the booming art scene throughout the 1950s-60s. His paintings reflected his adoration of forms drawn from nature and his interest in the Surrealist & Abstract Expressionist movements. George was then awarded a Fulbright Scholarship and traveled throughout Europe. Through experience, his vision and style expanded into sculptural artworks. George has created unique and large collages with wood pieces as well remarkable totems. One of these totems is exhibited in the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic entryway here in Grand Marais.

Morrison began teaching in the 1960s at the Dayton Art Institute in Ohio and the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence. By the 1970s, George took the position of Professor of Studio Arts & American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota. He continued teaching at the University until he retired to his Lake Superior cabin/studio in Grand Portage, Minnesota, in 1983.

George Morrison left the earth on April 17, 2000. His legacy and artwork will live on through many art collections around the world to be enjoyed for years to come. What George accomplished with pencils, paint brushes, and chisels will not be forgotten. His legacy lives on through the many awards he received and by the artwork on the Gallery walls.