Frances K. Smith Lectures on Artist Norval Morrisseau

In-Person at Agnes
21 September 2023
6–7:30 pm, with reception to follow

Free public lectures with Dr Carmen Robertson

 and Armand Garnet Ruffo

Entanglements and Teachings in the Art of Norval Morrisseau

Dr Carmen Robertson

To study the art of Norval Morrisseau is to become entangled in several complicatedly intertwisted narrative threads. Dr Robertson leads the Morrisseau Project: 1955–1985 research team working to build a database of his art and archival sources, design an online digital storylines project, and publish a book on his art and life from this period. Following the interconnected lines of inquiry his artworks posit, Robertson interrogates some of the complex teachings that Anishinaabe artist Norval Morrisseau’s visual storytelling language quietly offers twenty-first century audiences.

The Legacy of Norval Morrisseau

Armand Garnet Ruffo

Armand Ruffo is currently working with Brown Bag Productions on an episode of a children’s animation series called Xavier Riddle. The segment features Norval Morrisseau, as the central characters travel through time to meet him. During this talk, Ruffo shares a short clip from the episode and talks about the themes that the animation emphasizes for children, namely kinship, the environment and conservation in relation to Anishinaabe ways of being and knowing. To complement his talk, Ruffo draws from his acclaimed texts Norval Morrisseau: Man Changing Into Thunderbird and The Thunderbird Poems. Both books are available for purchase at Agnes on 21 September.


Dr Carmen Robertson holds the Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in North American Indigenous Visual and Material Culture at Carleton University. The Scots-Lakhota researcher has been researching the art of Norval Morrisseau since the early 2000s and has written two books, numerous chapters, and scholarly essays on the topic of his art and life. Robertson co-curated the exhibition Medicine Currents and the Art of Norval Morrisseau with Anishinaabe curator Danielle Printup for the Carleton University Art Gallery for Fall 2023. Other research interests include theorizing Indigenous aesthetics and studying Indigenous prairie beadwork. Robertson co-edited a collection of essays and art titled Bead Love: Knowledge Transmission and Other Indigenous Aesthetic Considerations from the Flatlands, forthcoming in Spring 2024 with University of Manitoba Press.

Armand Garnet Ruffo was born in Chapleau, Ontario, and draws upon his Ojibwe heritage for much of his writing. He published his first book of poetry, Opening in the Sky, in 1994. Four other poetry collections have followed including Treaty #, which was a finalist for a Governor General’s Literary Award in 2019. Ruffo has also written two books on Norval Morrisseau, The Thunderbird Poems (2015) and the creative non-fiction biography Norval Morrisseau: Man Changing into Thunderbird (2018). A multi-genre writer, Ruffo is also a filmmaker and playwright, and is recognized as a major contributor to Indigenous literary scholarship in Canada. He received a lifetime membership award from the League of Canadian Poets in 2016. A professor at Queen’s University, Ruffo lives in Kingston, Ontario.


Supported by the Frances K Smith Fund.

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