Modern Spirit

No one has ever seemed to know just how to define George Morrison’s work. While peers like Oscar Howe (Yanktonai Sioux) and Blackbear Bosin (Kiowa/Comanche) worked in themes and symbols that easily identified their art as Native in heritage, Morrison’s work more closely resembled that of abstract expressionists like Willem de Kooning and Franz Kline. To this day his colorful, abstract landscapes and driftwood sculptures that explore his relationship to the horizon continue to resist being boxed, defined or stereotyped.

But beyond easy definitions, Morrison’s work has also remained undervalued and even unknown in many cases in the Native art world. Modern Spirit: The Art of George Morrison, aims to change that by surveying Morrison’s career with nearly 80 pieces ranging from his earliest paintings to his final sculptures, while challenging what it means to be an Indian artist. The retrospective has already travelled to the Plains Art Museum in Fargo, North Dakota; the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in New York City; and will continue on to the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, the Heard Museum and the Minnesota History Center.

Read more here at Native Peoples Magazine or pick up a copy at newsstands.

Tristan Ahtone

Tristan Ahtone is a member of the Kiowa Tribe and serves as associate editor for tribal affairs at High Country News. He has reported for PBS NewsHour, National Native News, Wyoming Public Radio, NPR, Al Jazeera America, Indian Country Today, and National Geographic, and more. Tristan’s stories have won multiple honors, including investigative awards from Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Gannett Foundation. He additionally was awarded a Nieman Fellowship to study at Harvard University in 2017. He is president of the Native American Journalists Association.

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