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Sealskin scholarship

Visiting Indigi-queer artist demonstrates traditional materials in art

Campus and Community

By Pamela Gill

Building and connecting the community is at the heart of Glenn Gear’s educational approach to using traditional materials in artwork.

Collage artwork with a group of Indigenous people at work surrounded by a gray backdrop with blue and black shapes depicting Labradorite and tree silhouettes and with a large porthole in the background that shows the land and the ocean.
“Porthole” by Glenn Gear, an Indigi-queer artist originally from Corner Brook.
Photo: Glenn Gear

“It’s a wonderful space in which Indigenous and non-Indigenous folks can share skills, different techniques and traditions, and have meaningful discussions while creating something,” he said of a recent artist talk and workshop weekend at Grenfell Campus’s art gallery.

Mr. Gear, an Indigi-queer filmmaker and multidisciplinary artist of Inuit and settler descent, visited the campus in April to present on Sealskin and Sequins: An Artist’s Approach to Working with Traditional Materials.

A group of people gather around crafts at a table.
Artist Glenn Gear, right, guides some of the workshop participants at Grenfell Campus.
Photo: Lori Lee Pike

He says he has a deep respect for the craft traditions that come out of Nunatsiavut and other Inuit regions that inform his material-based art practice.

“In the context of Corner Brook and the workshop at Grenfell, I was blown away by the number of people who came to the artist talk and the sealskin beading workshop,” he said. “The community engagement was amazing.”

Day one saw participants learn about and discuss how fine artists use traditional Indigenous craft. Day two was an opportunity for the community to make art with sealskins, beads and other traditional materials.

“I led a workshop wherein we created a sealskin lapel pin with beaded picot edging,” said Mr. Gear, adding that the workshop was open to the general public and considered the different experience levels of the participants. “Many from the Qalipu First Nation were there and brought their own beads and beading projects to work on. There was a wonderful mixture of Inuit, Mi’kmaq and non-Indigenous people from the community – family, friends, artists and strangers.”

Traditional and non-traditional

Originally from Corner Brook, Mr. Gear lives in Montreal and has family ties to Nunatsiavut.

Glenn Gear artwork "Katinngak" depicting an illustration of a wolf and a caribou facing each other with a background of black, purple and white circles of individual dots.
Katinngak by Glenn Gear
Photo: Glenn Gear

His practice is grounded in a research-creation methodology shaped by Inuit and Indigenous ways of knowing, often employing animation, photo archives, painting, beading and work with traditional materials such as sealskin.

“I use materials such as sealskin in traditional and non-traditional ways,” he explained. “For example, I have facilitated a number of beading and sealskin workshops in which we make lapel pins, and I have also used sealskin in installations as a surface upon which I project animated images.”

Mr. Gear has worked on projects with the National Film Board of Canada, collaborated with other artists and created installations, online works and live video/audio projections that explore the complex relationships between land, animals, history and archives.

An image from Glenn Gould’s “Symmetry” series.
Photo: Glenn Gear

His films have screened in festivals throughout Canada and around the world.

View more of Mr. Gear’s work here.


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