In this painting, The Angel of the North by Ojibwa artist Blake Debassige, we can see how some First Nations artists are integrating the spiritual traditions of their own people with those of the Christian tradition. The painting also reveals the connection between the natural world and the spiritual world.
- What familiar symbols can you find?
- What elements in the painting show the importance of the natural world to Aboriginal peoples?
Note the wings of the angel in the painting. They are shaped like the wings of an eagle, a spiritual symbol often seen in Aboriginal art. Placing the wings of an eagle on the shoulders of an angel symbolizes a merging of Aboriginal spirituality and Christianity. the angel is drawn as a two-dimensional, transparent figure, revealing the spiritual nature within – a style that is common among the Woodland school of artists made famous in Canada by Norval Morrisseau. The rays from above suggest the presence of the Great Spirit or God. The angel has released one of her sacred feathers as a gift to those who live on the Earth for use in their sacred rituals. The eagle is one of the most sacred spiritual symbols for Aboriginal peoples in Canada. Angel of the North and other similar paintings illustrate the way in which some peoples have integrated their spirituality with their Christian faith.