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.


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


  • 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)


  • 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, Kamloops, 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)


  • 1998/99
    Eliza Jane Maracle Award (1998/99), En’owkin Centre
  • 1999/2000
    Overall Achievement Award (1999/2000), En’owkin Centre
  • 2011
    Elizabeth Valentine Prangnell Scholarship Award (2011), University of Victoria
  • 2019
    Longlisted for Aesthetica Art Prize Exhibition, York Art Gallery (2019)


Clint Burnham, Maureen Gruben. QULLIQ: In Darkness, Light.
ESPACE art actuel, Number 120, Fall 2018

Britt Gallpen, Surface Tensions: Maureen Gruben, Sonya Kelliher-Combs and Joar Nango
Inuit Art Quarterly, Summer 2018: SKIN. Cover.

Kevin Griffin, ART SEEN: Maureen Gruben’s materiality ranges from polar bear bones to bubble wrap
Vancouver Sun, March 6, 2018

What We Want to See in 2018
Canadian Art, January 4, 2018

Maureen Gruben, I Am
C Magazine, Issue 136 “Site/ation”

Eugenia Kisin, Scales of Repair: Design Ontologies in Maureen Gruben’s UNGALAQ (When Stakes Come Loose)
Lecture delivered at New York University’s Gallatin School, The Gallatin Climate Change Initiative: A Conference, September 15, 2017

Manon Hauglustaine, Un vent d’ouest souffle sur Vancouver
La Source, Volume 18, Édition 1

Lucien Dury, Vancouver Report: A Changing Climate
Canadian Art, July 26, 2017

Erin Donnelly,  An Arctic Installation Marks the End of An Era
Azure, August 17, 2017

Betty Ann Jordan, Maureen Gruben draws attention to a rapidly changing Arctic with Stitching My Landscape
Canadian Geographic, March 15, 2017