Maureen Gruben (Inuvialuk)

Maureen Gruben is an artist based in Victoria, BC and Tuktoyaktuk, NWT whose work employs an intimate materiality. Through disassembling and re-forming polar bear fur, moose hides, seal skins, gathered kelp, she forges a critical link between threatened arctic lands and communities, and international environmental and human conditions. In many pieces, abstraction of form sits in active tension with the acutely ‘real’ presence of her geographically and culturally embedded mediums. In other works, she addresses the historical persistence of specific forms, as ancestral tools re-emerge in new mediums such as concrete or fiberglass, and at altered scales.

Born and raised in Tuktoyaktuk, Gruben spent much of her childhood sewing with her mother, who was a seamstress, and trapping with her father. She has a tacit knowledge of arctic land and the rich but increasingly precarious resources it offers for both survival and creation. Frequently addressing themes such as Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), melting ice, and the rights of indigenous hunters to maintain their way of life, Gruben’s practice is permeated with activism while at the same time allowing generous room for her materials themselves to speak. While referring explicitly inwards to localised acts of hunting, gathering, communal preparation and sharing—and even to individual animals—her work, equally, extends decisively outwards, exploring new visual languages that offer compelling and often urgent global associations.

Education:

Bachelor of Fine Arts, University of Victoria, BC, 2012

Diploma in Fine Arts, Kelowna Okanagan College of Fine Arts, BC, 1990

Diploma in Fine Arts and Creative Writing, Enʼowkin Centre, Penticton, BC, 2000

Certificate in Indigenous Political Development & Leadership, Enʼowkin Centre, Penticton, BC, 2001

Solo Exhibitions:

2018:

Sealskin; Gathered Kelp, Langham Cultural Centre, Kaslo, BC (July 27 – September 30, 2018)

QULLIQ: In Darkness, Light, Libby Leshgold Gallery, Vancouver, BC (February 1 – April 22, 2018)

2017

UNGALAQ (When Stakes Come Loose), grunt gallery, Vancouver, BC, Guest curated by Kyra Kordoski and Tania Willard (June 9 – July 29, 2017)

Group Exhibitions:

2019:

Forthcoming: RE:DEFINE, Heard Museum, Pheonix, AZ

A Sense of Site, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in Halifax, Halifax, NS (February 2 – May 12, 2019)

Aivq and Nanuq: Sea Horse and Sea Bear of the Arctic Ice, Anchorage Museum, Anchorage, AK (October 5, 2018 – May 12, 2019)

2018:

Luminocity 2018, Kamploops Art Gallery, Kamploops, BC (October 18 – 20, 2018)

MAKESHIFT Contemporary Textiles Festival, Screening presented in partnership with the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Victoria, BC (November 10th, 2018)

THE TIME OF THINGS: The Continuum of Indigenous Customary Practices into Contemporary Art, University of Victoria Legacy Art Galleries, Victoria, BC, Guest curated by France Trepanier (April 11 – July 7, 2018)

150 Acts: Art, Activism, Impact, Art Gallery of Guelph, Guelph, ON (September 14, 2017 – February 11, 2018)

2017:

LandMarks2017: Art + Places + Perspectives / Repères2017: Art + lieux + perspectives, Gladstone Hotel, Toronto, ON (December 12 – 28, 2017)

Stitching My Landscape, A project commissioned for LandMarks2017/Repéres2017 (Partners in Art; Parks Canada), Tuktoyaktuk, NWT, Curated by Tania Willard,  (April – June, 2017)

2015:

CUSTOM MADE / Tsitslem te stem te ck’ultens-kuc, Kamloops Art Gallery, Kamloops, BC (June 27 – September 12, 2015)

2012:

Blink, University of Victoria, (2012)

Awards:

Eliza Jane Maracle Award (1998/99), En’owkin Centre

Overall Achievement Award (1999/2000), En’owkin Centre

Elizabeth Valentine Prangnell Scholarship Award (2011), University of Victoria