Metropolitan United Church is proud to partner with the Official Estate of Norval Morrisseau on this remarkable exhibition of profound and spiritually rich series of glicee reproductions. As we traverse through these six pivotal artworks, we embark on a journey that masterfully interweaves the terrestrial with the celestial, illustrating the deep spiritual and cultural traditions of the Ojibwe people. Each piece, curated with intentionality, represents a chapter in the narrative arc of life’s spiritual journey—from the grounding roles of family and ancestors to the transcendent realms of spiritual enlightenment.

"'Norval Morrisseau's artworks are more than just paintings; they are portals into the soul of Ojibwe spirituality and cultural heritage,' says Cory Dingle, CEO of the Estate of Norval Morrisseau. 'In this exhibition, we invite you to embark on a journey of profound discovery, where each brushstroke tells a story of connection, resilience, and transcendence. Through the careful curation of these six pivotal artworks, we honor Morrisseau's legacy and invite you to explore the depths of the human spirit as it dances between the earthly and the sacred”

Visit the Exhibition

There is no cost to visit the exhibition. The church is open to the public, Monday to Friday from noon to 3:00pm in May and June and on May 25-26, 10am-5pm for Doors Open Toronto.

We are also open for our weekly Sunday worship service at 11:00am, where all are welcome.

Met is an Affirming Congregation, offering welcome and companionship to all, inclusive of age, ethnicity, gender identity, differing abilities, and sexual orientation. 

In Honour of Mother

This foundational artwork introduces the nurturing and sustaining role of the mother within the Ojibwe community. It emphasizes the cyclical nature of life and the transmission of teachings from mother to child, laying the groundwork for the spiritual journey that unfolds.

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Father Shaman with Tree of Life

Following the maternal introduction, this painting introduces the patriarchal figure surrounded by the Tree of Life. It complements the maternal influence by showcasing the father's role as a protector and spiritual guide, grounding the journey in Ojibwe cultural roots and familial dynamics.

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Child like Simplicity with his friend the Butterfly

Transitioning from the parental figures, this painting introduces the next generation, focusing on the child’s role in the spiritual narrative. The child, symbolizing innocence and potential, is depicted learning from nature, guided by a butterfly. This piece emphasizes the importance of youth in carrying forward ancestral wisdom and connects the terrestrial teachings to the spiritual aspirations of the community.

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Shaman Grandfather Telling Stories of the Giant Bear

This painting anchors the series back in the terrestrial realm, emphasizing the role of storytelling and elder wisdom in cultural continuity. It showcases the communal engagement and the passing down of crucial knowledge about nature's guardians, like the Giant Bear, tying the physical to the spiritual realms through ancestral stories.

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Family Begins Journey to Higher Enlightenment

As the narrative progresses, this artwork depicts the family actively embarking on a spiritual quest, transitioning from foundational teachings to a path of enlightenment. The multi-colored bears symbolize the complexity and diversity of spiritual guidance, with one of the bears continuing into the final painting of the exhibition, now white, indicating the onset of a transformation toward higher spiritual states.

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Family on the Astral Plane of Enlightenment

This final piece culminates the spiritual journey, portraying the family’s ascent into the celestial realm accompanied by the enduring presence of the Tree of Life. It serves as the zenith of the narrative, where the terrestrial merges into the celestial, and the family joins the cosmos, guided by the ancestral spirits and celestial beings. This artwork encapsulates the theme of transcendence and the ultimate spiritual enlightenment sought through Ojibwe teachings, with one bear continuing on this transformative journey, now depicted as white, symbolizing its evolution towards higher spiritual states.

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Earth Mother

Morrisseau’s iconic work delves deep into the intrinsic connections that sustain the web of life, underscoring the cultural imperatives that advocate for ecological balance and respect. Employing a vibrant palette of earthy tones to symbolize the land, along with blues and greens that represent water and life, the use of color and form conveys not just interconnectedness but also the dynamic fluidity and vitality of the natural world.

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"Norval Morriseau: Family of the Spiritual Journey" is not merely an exhibition but a profound exploration of the interconnectedness between the terrestrial and the celestial realms within Ojibwe spirituality. Through masterfully curated artworks, we traverse the narrative arc of life's spiritual journey, from the grounding roles of family and ancestors to the transcendent realms of spiritual enlightenment. Each painting serves as a chapter in this cosmic narrative, offering insights into the rich cultural heritage and profound wisdom of the Ojibwe community.

Reverend Jason Meyers' journey to Sand Point First Nation, now known as Bingwi Neyaashi Anishinaabek First Nation, has been pivotal in strengthening the relationship between the Estate and the MET. His deep understanding of the Church Sanctuary has guided the selection of artworks, ensuring the spiritual themes resonate within this sacred space, enriching the viewer's experience.

The exhibition has also received unwavering support from the surviving children of Norval Morrisseau, along with the Chiefs of both Bingwi Neyaashi Anishinaabek First Nation and Keewaywin First Nation, who have endorsed the showcasing of these works, recognizing their cultural and spiritual significance. Their support underscores the deep connection and respect these communities hold for Morrisseau’s legacy and their collective desire to share his vision with a broader audience.

Enhancing this journey, Elder Philip Cote will provide invaluable cosmological interpretations and sacred wisdom for each artwork, deepening the connection and understanding of Morrisseau’s vibrant representations of Ojibwe cosmology. His insights will highlight the interconnectedness of life, the wisdom of traditions, and the continuum between the earthly and the divine. This exhibition is not just a showcase of artistic mastery but also an immersive exploration of the cultural heartbeat and spiritual legacy of the Ojibwe community.

With gratitude to all who have contributed, this exhibition invites us to contemplate our place within the vast tapestry of existence, guided by the enduring legacy of Norval Morriseau and the timeless teachings of the Ojibwe tradition.

David J. Harris,
Global Partnership Director of the Estate of Norval Morrisseau and Founder of the Museum of Inuit Art.

Rev. Jason Meyers' message announcing the collaboration

At the Estate of Norval Morrisseau:

We believe in the power of art as a means of cultural expression and understanding. Through our initiatives, we strive to make Morrisseau's artworks accessible to all, fostering appreciation for Indigenous artistry and promoting cultural understanding. We support Indigenous communities in preserving their cultural heritage through collaborative initiatives, ensuring the vitality of Indigenous cultural practices.

Moreover, we engage in global outreach by lending Morrisseau's artworks to museums and major cultural venues worldwide, promoting cultural exchange and deepening understanding of his impact.

Furthermore, we facilitate scholarly research and academic recognition of Morrisseau's art, contributing to understanding his contributions to Indigenous art within academic circles. Through exhibitions, educational programs, and digital resources, we promote public education on Morrisseau's art, fostering appreciation for Indigenous art and culture.

Additionally, we award grants to nurture creativity in Indigenous art and provide support to charitable organizations addressing systemic challenges facing Indigenous communities, contributing to positive social change.