Arboreal: Daniel Gruetter and Juliana Scherzer
ARBOREAL: DANIEL GRUETTER AND JULIANA SCHERZER
August 21 – October 2, 2021
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‘Arboreal’ is an exhibition of recent work by woodworker Daniel Gruetter and textile artist Juliana Scherzer exploring how we relate to material, place, and nature. Created using tree materials—fallen leaves for Juliana and local wood for Daniel—these works interrogate our role within, and responsibility to, the natural environment.
Juliana Scherzer’s quilt-pieced leaf works developed out of a week-long, land-based residency in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park in Chéticamp, Nova Scotia. Informed by the park’s restoration and conservation efforts, Juliana’s experiments led to a method of encasing fallen leaves in glycerin. By preserving the leaves’ flexibility, she is able to manipulate them like textiles, constructing her works through cutting, quilt-piecing, and machine-sewing. The result is evocative of wooded paths, rhizomes and roots, insect burrows, tree canopies, and watersheds—vectors ranging in scale from micro to macro. At the same time, familiar quilting techniques call to mind heirloom quilts pieced from a baby blanket, an outgrown dress, an old work shirt, all sewn together to create a network of connections between people and their stories. And that’s the point: these systems—human, animal, fungal, vegetal—are enmeshed and indivisible.
Through his furniture and objects, Daniel Gruetter reveals the intrinsic value of wood. His work expresses the unique capacities of local woods and reframes “flaws” as valuable and essential parts of the material. Daniel’s approach to material, one of observation and response, draws on traditional craft methodologies and their relationship to the natural world.
Each of Daniel’s pieces highlights a specific material trait. The technique of oxidation, for example, combines iron with the natural tannins in wood to create dramatic colours that vary by species. ‘Live-edge table #1’ utilizes an expansion joint made from a crack, a feature that highlights the forces inherent in wood as it expands and contracts. The handheld objects are sculptural ergonomic shapes, finely finished to optimize the tactility of wood. This attentive and caring relationship to materials extends out to the whole of the natural world, and offers an alternative ideology to our current economic system of extractive capitalism that treats natural resources as commodities for exploitation and is an ongoing driver of colonialism.
Both artists’ work express a sense of care that comes from understanding yourself as a node in a network of relations; that being in relation means a reciprocity and a responsibility to the material and, in turn, all of the material’s connections.
– Robyn Wilcox, Curator
Daniel Gruetter is a woodworker based in Toronto, Canada. He was born and raised in Bella Coola, a remote community nestled in British Columbia’s coast mountains. He graduated from the University of British Columbia with a BA in History in 2010. Daniel has worked with local and international artists, architects, and designers to provide finely made furniture and objects for a wide variety of contexts from private homes to commercial spaces and hospitality enterprises. He provides design services, as well as batch production and custom woodwork.
Juliana Scherzer is a textile artist working primarily in free-motion machine embroidery and quilted leaves. After graduating from Sheridan College with a Bachelor of Craft and Design (2018), Juliana spent three years as an artist-in-residence at the Cape Breton Centre for Craft and Design where she continued to build her practice while branching out into production work and teaching a range of textile and art courses in the community. In August 2021 Juliana relocated to Toronto to join Harbourfront Centre’s Artist-in-Residence Program.