(Editors Note: APTN National News has decided not to use the real name of the artist because she has concerns over her safety.)
APTN National News
The family of Norval Morriseau is speaking out about a planned exhibition of paintings by Amanda PL that bears a striking resemblance to the late artists work.
“We promised our father that we would try to carry on his legacy and if this thing opens up to, if non-natives start painting like my dad the meaning of his artwork is going to be lost,” said Eugene Morrisseau, one of Norval Morrisseau’s seven children.
Eugene Morrisseau is also an accomplished artist.
(Eugene Morrisseau is one of Norval’s seven children and is an accomplished painter in his own right. Photos Willow Fiddler/APTN)
He said the family doesn’t like her style of painting.
“Seeing this lady portray exactly like my dads artwork is almost like, I didn’t like it and as if shes copying,” he said.
Side by side images of Amanda PL’s work and that of Norval Morriseau’s made the rounds on social media prompting claims of plagiarism… and support.
Senator Murray Sinclair said Amanda PL’s work (signed Amanda PL) “clearly appreciates and is inspired by Norval Morrisseau and I for one applaud her for directing her talent that way.”
But Eugene Morriseau isn’t so sure Amanda PL knows the deeply spiritual teachings in his father’s work.
And this worries him
“Even ten years from now that her work is probably going to hang up somewhere and my dad’s artwork will be hanging right next it and people aren’t even going to know what it means,” said Eugene Morrisseau.
He said the teachings that Anishinabe artists depict are thousands of years old; passed along through generations.
“Oh they’re going to tell stories, Ahchoogahnoog eh, that’s where I used to go to listen to these stories through my grandparents,” he said. “Through the Elders, this is what this means when you pass on, put it on canvas this is how you tell the story.”
Morrisseau said you can’t just pick up what he knows from the internet or books.
Amanda PL told APTN in an email she was taught the untold history of Canada by an Anishinabe teacher during her studies in Thunder Bay.
“As an artist, I do have an ethical and social responsibility to respect, acknowledge, and adhere to laws, protocols, rights and freedoms of indigenous artists and communities,” she said.
But when asked about criticism, particularly by Morriseau’s children, that her work compromises Morriseau’s legacy Amanda PL said she doesn’t see it that way.
“I don’t engage with critics. critics work is to critique, artist work is to paint, write, compose, and share their creations,” she wrote. “Whether people or critics like it or not, it isn’t for me to decide.”
That’s not good enough for the family.
“We don’t want that door open and if she does, somebody else is going to do it then all stories and all the storytelling, they’re not going to be there no more, it’s going to be meaningless,” said Eugene Morrisseau.
An exhibit of Amanda PL’s Morrisseau-esque work at the Visions Gallery in Toronto was cancelled amid the bad publicity.
Senator Sinclair sad it’s the gallery owners who deserve criticism for throwing her under the bus.
Amanda PL said she won’t reconsider her style of art.