Maureen Gruben is an artist based in Victoria, BC and Tuktoyaktuk, NWT. Through disassembling and re-forming polar bear fur, moose hides, seal skins, and gathered kelp, she forges a link between threatened arctic lands and communities, as well as international environmental and human conditions. In several 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.
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.