As three Generation X storytellers with a shared affinity for queer reclamation strategies and decorative craft traditions, Daniel Barrow, Glenn Gear and Paige Gratland began collaborating in the summer of 2018 at the Intergenerational LGBT Residency at Gibraltar Point, Toronto Island. Expanding this connection, the artists came together at Eastern Edge in St John’s this past summer, where they engaged local community as a queer craft circle, exploring a skillsharing approach to creative exchange.
In a third iteration of their collaborative relationship, Barrow, Gear and Gratland will spend two weeks in the grunt space in advance of the exhibition opening, sharing practices and bringing together their work for Three Way Mirror. Shaped by the upheavals and isolation of the last 3 years, the artists will explore in situ the intimacy created when people work creatively together. It is a multi-faceted curiosity: the material intelligence of paper cutting, leather-work, weaving and beading–born in each of their practices through years of learning, intergenerational exchange and queer support networks–intersects with time-based storytelling, animation and documentary film. Woven throughout is a conversation with each other and the wider community, and Three Way Mirror finds in their shared sensibilities (and distinct practices) a space for queer craft legacies to be created, shared and have their stories told.
Daniel Barrow is a genderfluid, Montreal-based storyteller/artist who has employed parallel strategies in their approach to the tradition of paper dolls – inventing “narrative architectures” that grapple with the dollhouse/paper doll as an instrument of conventional heteronormative, gender binary instruction. Barrow’s queer miniatures can initially seem romantic, borderline-nostalgic and functionally somewhat straight-forward. Part of their working method, however, involves introducing narrative and pictorial elements to the domestic miniature object – transforming it into a sculptural ode to the decorative, the transfeminine, the beautiful, the miniaturized and the minor.
Glenn Gear is an interdisciplinary artist of Inuit and settler ancestry, born in Corner Brook Newfoundland and with ancestral ties to the homeland of Nunatsiavut, Northern Labrador. Gear has been working in hand-beaded objects and small shadow boxes, combining Inuit material practice with his own intimate processes and approaches, which convey latent queer realities in traditional patterns. Working in beadwork and sealskin, Gear has begun incorporating satin, lace, sequins and other signifiers of queer culture to embrace personal and cultural connections between land, people, and animals through research-based creation. His handcrafted beadwork and animated films incorporate layers of meaning derived from materials, collage, and craft techniques, seen through an Indigiqueer lens.
Paige Gratland is a visual artist and filmmaker. Her work is informed by social history and design, producing projects and objects that explore craft practices, intergenerational exchange and colour narratives. She learned to weave in 2019 at the Richmond Weavers and Spinners Guild (British Columbia) and is currently enrolled in the Master Weaver Program at Olds College (Alberta).
Image: Rose Garden Poem (detail) by Daniel Barrow, 2021. Courtesy of the artist.