Photo by Augustine Ng


Ryerson alumnus Mauicio Estrada turned the Gladstone Hotel into his own virtual garden over the weekend.

Estrada, a 2017 graduate of the image arts program, joined around 50 participants and 25 projects at this year’s Come Up to My Room exhibition at the Gladstone hotel. He used his fourth-year thesis project, Palisade, as his installation.

Come Up to My Room hosts artists from all over Canada to display their projects. Their art is shown in different rooms that are meant to take visitors into their different worlds.

“We get about 4,000 people to come through,” said Tara McCallum, the Gladstone Hotel’s marketing and communications director.

Palisade is meant to emulate a virtual garden. Estrada worked on the project for about a year with the support of his Ryerson instructors and the Ryerson Artspace. “Robin Cumming, the director for the Ryerson Artspace, was actually my thesis adviser and, honestly, without her this wouldn’t have come to fruition,” said Estrada.

The installation consists of several three-dimensional portraits of Roman and Greek statues in a garden. Taking up an entire room, it features floral fabric walls, rubber mulch and a pair of virtual reality glasses. “This whole thing started with a statement and that statement was [that] I wanted to make a virtual garden that people can physically walk through,” said Estrada.

Looking through the virtual reality glasses allows the visitors to see a full garden and not just portraits posted up on a wall with fabric. The glasses allow the visitors to think and feel like they are in a garden, no matter where they look. Estrada developed the idea for the project after he went on a student exchange trip to Sydney, Australia.

“I was just really taken aback by the sort of local florals. Australians have this real connection to nature that I feel we don’t as much,” said Estrada. “The cities just have so many parks and so many gardens, its beautiful and I was just really enamoured by everything.”

After finishing his thesis, Estrada displayed his installation first at the year-end showcase for image arts students, Maximum Exposure, before moving on to the Ryerson Artspace.

The Ryerson Artspace, also located at the Gladstone Hotel, is run by students and faculty at Ryerson University. It serves as a gallery that allows students and alumni to display their work.

According to Lukus Toane, the Gladstone’s director of exhibition, the hotel is always eager to have student participation from the Artspace to add to the exhibition. “We love that they bring their own student-based tip to be a part of our conversation,” said Toane.

Estrada says that assistance from the Ryerson Artspace was a big factor in being able to showcase his installation at the exhibition. “If it wasn’t for Ryerson, I wouldn’t be at the point that I am in my career. I’m proud of my time [there],” said Estrada.

All photos by Augustine Ng 

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