Side by Side: Michelle Gay, Wyn Geleynse, and David Merritt

Curated by Evelyn Sorochan-Ruland

On view now until October 11, 2021
Gallery Stratford (Stratford, ON)


Side by Side (Installation view) 2021, Gravity Sketch,.OBJ

Despite growing popularity in gaming and entertainment, virtual reality (VR) still has a relatively limited presence in the contemporary art world as many arts institutions are slow to adopt the unfamiliar technology. Pandemic related stay-at-home orders encouraged arts organizations to re-examine their current use and possibilities inherent in adopting virtual programming and digital technologies. Gallery Stratford has taken this as an opportunity to experiment with the innovative potential that VR technology presents in both exhibition development and education. Side by Side, is Gallery Stratford’s first VR exhibition bringing together artists Michelle Gay, Wyn Geleynse, and David Merritt to reimagine the gallery experience by highlighting the numerous multifaceted possibilities of VR.

In Side by Side, the artists use VR to blur the boundaries between reality and imagination, medium and hybridity, and public and private spaces. The artists had no prior experience working with VR. The intent was to invite creative experimentation, by providing a platform for the artists to adapt their traditional skills to this new virtual environment. Gay, Geleynse, and Merritt have identified how VR provides the opportunity to broaden the parameters of the art making process, art mediums, and the ability to share artistic creations.

About the Artists:

Michelle Gay is an artist, designer, and researcher employing animation, digital media, and drawing into her artistic practice. Agora, created for Side by Side investigates the potential of this immersive environment by re-examining notions of digital agencies, communal spaces, and creating an interactive experience for the viewer. She is currently working on a PhD in the Environmental and Urban Change faculty at York University, focusing on Artists as Urban Theorists. She holds an MFA from NSCAD University and a Master of Information Science from University of Toronto. As an urban planning activist, she lobbied for 14+ years for affordable live & work spaces for research and creation; public spaces; and for urban design which is forward thinking and inclusive. Gay has exhibited in galleries nationally and internationally, including Pace University Gallery in New York (2008), Eli & Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University (2014) and most recently had a virtual exhibition at Embassy Cultural House (2020) and teaches in the Graduate Studies department at OCADU.

Wyn Geleynse is a multimedia artist living and working in London, Ontario. Born in Rotterdam, Netherlands, Geleynse moved to Canada as a child and was raised in London. Since 1969, he has exhibited extensively in both Canada and Europe. Considered one of Canada’s pioneer film and video projection artists, Geleynse’s career spans a period of almost 50 years. His work raises questions about self and identity, commenting on the human condition with a subtle blend of irony and humanity. He is interested in the notion of film projection as a metaphor for projecting one’s thoughts and desires. His work, Believes, created for this exhibition playfully speaks to identity, politics, and memory framed by subjective experiences and belief systems that are open to interpretation. In 2018, Wyn received a Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts. Currently represented by TrépanierBaer Gallery, Wyn Geleynse’s work was the subject of a solo exhibition at Gallery Stratford in 2016.

David Merritt’s practice operates in the diminishing space between human and non-human systems. His drawing, sculptural and multimedia works have been exhibited in galleries nationally and internationally, including the National Gallery of Canada, Art Gallery of Ontario, the Textile Museum of Canada, The Power Plan, and TENT CBK (Rotterdam). A touring survey exhibition, shim/sham/shimmy was circulated by Museum London in collaboration with the Art Gallery of Hamilton, the MacLaren Art Centre and the Art Gallery of Windsor and his work is currently featured in the Biennale internationale du lin de Portneuf in Deschambault-Grondines, Quebec. Merritt holds his MFA from NSCAD and a BFA from University of Western Ontario where he recently retired from his position as Full Professor in the Department of Visual Arts. Merritt’s work, A Line Brushing the Skin, utilizes the pictorial potentiality of VR as a space for experimentation and hybridity, to create an expanded form of drawing and sculpture. David Merritt lives and works in London, Ontario. His work is represented by Christie Contemporary, Toronto.

Book online or call the gallery 519-271-5271 x 222 to make an appointment.

Contact info:

Gallery Stratford
54 Romeo Street S
Stratford, ON. N5A 4S9
Partially accessible venue

Gallery Hours: noon to 8 PM daily
Admission is free thanks to the support of Orr Insurance and Investment

Facebook: GalleryStratford
Instagram: gallerystratford
Twitter: gallerystrat


Media Inquiries:
Evelyn Sorochan-Ruland