Stitching My Landscape

Rising up from the shores of the Beaufort Sea, the Pingo Canadian Landmark area near Tuktoyaktuk (NWT) has provided wayfinding for Inuvialuit travellers for centuries — not to mention lookouts for spotting caribou, whales, and other wildlife.

Wholly unique to the Arctic, these enormous ice-filled hills have seen the changing realities of Indigenous peoples, the arrival of the whalers, and the consequences of our crisis in climate. For LandMarks2017/Repères2017, artist Maureen Gruben explores this landmark (which is cooperatively managed in accordance with the Inuvialuit Settlement Agreement) and its legacy of change, drawing on local knowledge of ice conditions to drill ice fishing holes on either side of the channel surrounding Canada’s highest pingo — the Ibyuq Pingo. The artist references Inuvialuit delta trim pattern that’s often used to decorate parkas, stitching through the ice with red broadcloth that zigs and zags across the ice. These acts of adornment are used in textiles and regalia as a means of celebrating and enhancing their beauty. For Gruben at the Ibyuq Pingo, they are also about relating with, reflecting on, and ultimately valuing the land.

Excerpted from ‘Shift; Rise: Maureen Gruben’s UNGALAQ (When Stakes Come Loose)’ a catalog essay for Maureen Gruben’s solo exhibition UNGALAQ (When Stakes Come Loose), on view at Vancouver’s grunt gallery, June 9 – July 29th, 2017.