• Artist Project

Glenn Gear’s Love for Symmetry Inspires a Series of Circular Works

Feb 22, 2023
by Glenn Gear

During the summer of 2022, Daniel Barrow, Paige Gratland and myself took part in a six-week residency at Eastern Edge Gallery in St. John’s, NL, culminating in a group show that opened at the gallery that following September, entitled Three Way Mirror. The show was an exploration of our individual material practices and shared sensibilities as three queer artists who use distinct craft traditions, collaboration and community engagement to create work. 

I began working on rough sketches during the summer of 2022, inspired by the sea, St. John’s Harbour and by my fellow queers in our shared rented house. Working alongside Paige and her explorations in weaving, and Daniel with his delicately dyed paper dolls, made me think of my own drawings and the ways in which familiar patterns of animals and Inuit geometrics were emerging and combining.

Glenn Gear Six-fold Animal Series: Tulugak (2022) Digital print © THE ARTIST 

The rough sketches progressed into black-and-white digital images as the idea of six-fold symmetry—inspired by the structure of snowflakes—took hold. This radial six-fold symmetry is something that had previously emerged in my work and it seemed like the perfect time to investigate the form more closely. Using a combination of pen on paper, digital drawing and kaleidoscopic filtering, I landed on a workflow that was both organic and precise and that offered a great deal of play. The kaleidoscopic drawings, titled Six-fold Animals, consisted of a series of nine drawings featuring bold lines against a white field, depicting animals and forms and patterns inspired by the coastline and the sea.

Glenn Gear Six-fold Animal Series: Nanuk (2022) Digital print © THE ARTIST 

This series of symmetrical works became the basis for new creations for a further iteration of Three Way Mirror, which was preceded by another residency and more community engagement and was mounted at grunt gallery in Vancouver, BC, on December 2, 2022. Both shows grew organically through a collective spirit of friendship and through shared investigations into queer craft legacies.

Glenn Gear
Symmetry Series: Composition #9 (2022) Digital print © THE ARTIST

The show at grunt gallery included photo-collage works featuring materials I photographed around my studio space. These photographs included beading projects, sealskin and driftwood and were collaged in a similar manner to create kaleidoscopic symmetry. The objects were initially photographed against a black velvet background, filtered and framed in black—in stark contrast to the previous series of images against white fields and white frames. 

Glenn Gear
Symmetry Series: Composition #5 (2022) Digital print © THE ARTIST

In the middle of these two image groupings of “elements” and “animals” is a circular projection; a portal carefully delineated on the gallery wall in fingerprints that evokes a simple beadwork pattern. The portal (another motif that I have been exploring) is a projection of another six-fold kaleidoscopic space in motion, slowly changing, rotating and radiating outwards. The basis for the imagery inside the portal was my own beadwork, photographed and animated digitally to move softly and silently. This work is titled Breathing Hole (2022) and creates a small mesmerizing space of contemplation and connection between the series of framed works.


6 breathing_hole

Glenn Gear
Breathing Hole (2022) Video projection and fingerprints © THE ARTIST

These recent works employing photo-collage, drawing, animation and digital processing have uncovered new ways in which I think about my practice in relation to land, identity, material practice and kaleidoscopic space—a glimpse through a portal, perhaps opening up into a transformative Inuit future.

Glenn Gear is an Indigiqueer filmmaker and multidisciplinary artist of Inuit and settler descent currently living in Montreal, QC. He is originally from Corner Brook, NL, and has family ties to Nunatsiavut. His practice is grounded in a research creation methodology shaped by Inuit and Indigenous ways of knowing, often employing the use of animation, photo archives, painting, beading and work with traditional materials such as sealskin. His work has shown in exhibitions across Canada and his films have screened in festivals around the world.

CanadaCouncilLogoLongThis project was made possible with the generous support of the Canada Council for the Arts.


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