COOPER COLE is pleased to present, Meet me at the floe edge, a solo exhibition by Maureen Gruben. This exhibition marks the artists first solo exhibition at the gallery, and will take place in both the gallery’s east and west exhibition spaces.
Meet me at the floe edge invites viewers to move towards a Western Arctic perspective. Centering her ongoing engagement with the found and reused, Gruben’s latest body of sculptures includes lightly shimmering masks comprised of deconstructed polar bear rugs, suspended from mitt strings made by a community elder; an oversized clear vinyl ookpik stuffed with plastic toys unearthed from the landfill; a well-used girl’s parka cover folded and stitched into abstraction; an aged foam bear head with a fibre optic mohawk. The sculptures presented in Meet me at the floe edge deftly and playfully embrace mass-produced materials while remaining acutely aware of the increasingly unstable relationship between human consumption and organic life.
In addition to this new body of sculptures, the artist will present a large scale video installation titled, Nuna (meaning “land” in Inuvialuk). This installation features the red broadcloth from Gruben’s internationally recognized 2017 land-work, Stitching My Landscape, in which she used the material to join 111 ice fishing holes in the Beaufort Sea. In the spring of 2022, Gruben sewed the fabric into two 56’ x 28’ panels. Working closely with Tuktoyaktuk community youth, she brought these fabric panels back out to the sea ice and laid them across one another. Over the two-month period the works were introduced back into the natural landscape, a meltwater pool formed precisely where the fabric was placed, creating a spectacular collaborative effect of human action and the shifting season. The process was captured in drone video documentation, alongside a first-hand experience of the meltwater, filmed on the artist’s phone. Nuna will be presented as a projection in the gallery with the fabric panels, which are marked by their long interactions with ice, snow, water, wind, and sun. This immersive installation prompts viewers to consider the profound impact of their actions on the delicate balance of our shared ecosystem.
Maureen Gruben (b. 1963, Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories, Canada) has a diverse multi-media practice which incorporates organic and industrial materials that are frequently found or salvaged. She was born and raised in Tuktoyaktuk where her parents were traditional Inuvialuk knowledge keepers and founders of E. Gruben’s Transport. Gruben holds a BFA from the University of Victoria and a Certificate in Indigenous Political Development & Leadership, En’owkin Centre, Penticton.
Past exhibitions include WAG-Qaumajuq, Winnipeg; the Women’s Darkroom + Gallery, New York; Cade Centre for Fine Arts, Baltimore; Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art, University of Nevada, Los Vegas; Contemporary Native Art Biennial, Montreal; Cooper Cole; public art installations for The Bentway Skate Trail & Canoe Landing, Toronto; Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York; Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver; and the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. She was shortlisted for the 2023 Kenojuak Ashevak Memorial Award and long listed for the 2019 Aesthetica Art Prize and the 2021 Sobey Art Prize. Upcoming exhibitions include a solo show at Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver (2024); and group exhibitions at Museu De Arte De São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand, São Paulo, Brazil (2023); Bodenrader, Chicago (2023); Rovaniemi Art Museum, Rovaniemi, Finland (2024); and Museum of Contemporary Native Art in Santa Fe, Santa Fe (2024).” Her work is held in public and private collections including the Art Gallery of Ontario, the National Gallery of Canada, Vancouver Art Gallery, and the Indigenous Art Centre, Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada. Gruben currently lives and works in Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories, Canada.
Maureen Gruben – Nuna, 2023
Maureen Gruben – Delta Trim, 2018
Bubble wrap, reflective tape, Velcro, zip ties, moosehide
Maureen Gruben – Sila, 2022
Vintage medic vests, metallic ink
19 ft (234 in/594.4 cm)
Meet me at the floe edge
Maureen Gruben – Meet me at the floe edge, 2023
Mitt strings, polar bear hide, mother of pearl buttons, acrylic paint
32.5 x 11.5 in (82.6 x 29.2 cm), 50 x 9 in (127 x 22.9 cm)
Skipping Stones And Mud Pies
Maureen Gruben – Skipping Stones And Mud Pies, 2023
Clear vinyl, safety gloves, bubble wrap, leather, plastic toys, drum skin
What took you so long?
Maureen Gruben – What took you so long?, 2023
Taxidermy foam bear head, optical fibres
Annivik: Assemblage 2
Maureen Gruben – Annivik: Assemblage 2, 2021
Bullets (empty shells), sinew, metal ruler
Maureen Gruben – Tapsi, 2021
Cable, sinew, ookpik
Maureen Gruben – Atikluq, 2023
Parka cover, acrylic paint, thread