Gentle Disruptions

Michelle Bunton, GHY Cheung, Frank DeSa, Zakary-Georges Gagné, Erin Kennedy, Leisa Rich, Haley Sarfeld
Curated by Vince Ha

Main Space
June 13 – August 5, 2023
Opening Reception: June 14, 2023, 6pm

Gentle Disruptions explores covert or playful acts that intervene in our habits, communal distortions, and systemic biases. Where bold acts are faced with bold resistance, gentle disruptions, on the other hand, can be overlooked and underestimated, easing through nooks and crevices to affect change. In this community-focused exhibition, featured artists survey a myriad of gestures that define what it means to be gentle and to disrupt. Their work proposes strategies to decalcify our notions of interruption and possibly detoxify the accumulated violence in our bodies—whether that violence is inflicted by ourselves or by others.

Image: close-up of Erin Kennedy's Robot Butterfly | Photo: courtesy of the artist

Gentle Disruptions, 2023, exhibition shot | Photo credit: Chris Miner

Curatorial Statement

This exhibition tills the fertile, artistic ground of what it means to be gentle and to disrupt. Here, seven featured artists embrace the tensions between these words, their keen observations and approaches surveying the different vantage points on how to gently disrupt—from eavesdropping to the act of waiting, from the fluttering of robotics to the metabolization of rocks. These artists share slivers of their intimate journeys, keenly sensitive to the relationship with their bodies, while still being intensely critical of the communities and institutions with which they engage. Their works not only reverberate with one another but also pulsate in response to the works of three other artists sharing this space.

While the notions of disruption can be viewed as grand gestures, tipping points, or interruptive forces, the labour of these artists proposes contrasting stances highlighting that atomic acts of disruptions—covert and playful acts—can be overlooked and underestimated, often encouraging rhizomatic collaborations to affect change. Though sprightly in their approaches, the artists are cognizant that, at times, our society makes it wretchedly difficult for some individuals to exist. And what we call resiliency is simply survival-hood.

Over the next few weeks, Union Gallery will invite local artists and community groups to disrupt this space, extending it beyond an exhibition and a workplace, potentially transforming it into a community playground. As you navigate the exhibition, we encourage you to reflect on your own disruptions, gentle or not, on how your choices can mobilize a kinder, equity-amplified environment.

Gentle Disruptions, 2023, exhibition shot | Photo credit: Chris Miner
Gentle Disruptions, 2023, exhibition shot | Photo credit: Chris Miner
Gentle Disruptions, 2023, exhibition shot | Photo credit: Chris Miner
Leisa Rich, Paint By No Numbers, 2023, close-up shot | Photo credit: Chris Miner
Leisa Rich, Meanderings and Memories of Butterflies, 2023, close-up shot | Photo credit: Chris Miner
Haley Sarfeld, Half Past Lunchtime: Dandelion Head, 2023, exhibition shot | Photo credit: Chris Miner
GHY Cheung, Waiting for a friend (I know [you know]), 2023, exhibition shot | Photo credit: Chris Miner
Erin Kennedy, Robot Butterfly, 2023, exhibition shot | Photo credit: Chris Miner


Acts of Disruption
+ Opening Reception
June 14, 2023 at 6pm

with Abby + Morgan
June 28/30, 2023

with Holly Gilmour
July 12, 2023

Youth Gallery Intervention with Hill Werth
July 14, 2023

with Fan Wu
July 19, 2023


Michelle Bunton

Michelle Bunton is a transdisciplinary artist/curator/derby jammer currently residing as an uninvited guest in Katarokwi-Kingston. They are one-quarter of the micropress Small Potatoes, one-half of the artist-duo Tear Jerkers.

Prioritizing femi-queer science, SF (speculative fabulation/science fiction) and diffractive pedagogy, they aim to embody a collaborative praxis that centres queer kinship. Bunton playfully embraces the potential of failure, uncertainty and decay in their practice, often taking up sport and science as framework for their multi-media installations. Their recent work turns to slime mold/lichen/fungi and their attendant characteristics of collective action, decentralized organization and abject re-composition of matter.


GHY Cheung

GHY Cheung is a Hong Kong-born artist and writer. He works with video, installation and text to examine how queer folx make sense of the world through aesthetics, everyday practices, lexicons and citational fields. His work has been presented locally at Union Gallery, Modern Fuel Artist-Run Centre and Agnes Etherington Art Centre. His recent projects consider cruising as a spatial, social and mnemonic practice, both from a historical perspective and as future-oriented propositions.

GHY is one-half of artist duo NO and NO with Kyle Vingoe-Cram, and one-half of artist duo Tear Jerkers with Michelle Bunton.


Frank DeSa

Frank DeSa's works explores the relationship between mind and body, the tools we create to sculpt our realities and notions of deja vu and jamais vu.


Zakary-Georges Gagné

Zakary-Georges is a transfeminine, non-binary, francophone, and Cree individual. As an artist, organizer, volunteer, and educator, she aims to create conversations about the wellbeing and realities of gender, sexual, and culturally diverse people in hope of building and supporting resilient communities.

She's been able to do this work on a national scene through public speaking, curriculum development, photography, illustrations, and collaging, while bringing forward topics she most cares about, including indigenization, gender disruption, and interconnectivity.


Erin Kennedy

Erin Kennedy is an eccentric robotics inventor and Mars analogue astronaut. She is the founder of Robot Missions, which develops low-cost robots to address environmental challenges. One of which, Bowie the robot, collected plastic on a beach alongside a solar powered workstation for an entire summer in Ottawa. She completed studies at the International Space University, and brought home a gold medal for Canada at the RoboGames (aka robot Olympics).


Leisa Rich

Leisa Rich is an experimental visual artist who transforms materials in unique ways via dyeing, painting, melting, sculpting, embroidery, 3D printing, laser cutting, resin and more.

Rich has Master of Fine Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts, and Bachelor of Education in Art degrees, and has exhibited in notable museums and galleries. She is a published author. Rich has taught art for 48 years. She has won numerous awards.

Rich’s works are in the permanent collections of Delta Airlines Inc., Hilton Hotels, Inc., Emory Healthcare/Women’s Health, Kamm Foundation, Dallas Museum of Art, University of Texas, and in international private collections.


Haley Sarfeld

Haley Sarfeld is a singer, songwriter, poet, playwright, composer, collager, cruciverbalist, voice actor, and theatre critic living in Katarokwi/Kingston. She’s been described as having “a melodic and pleasurable way of saying things that are actually really sad,” which she applies to art and life in equal measure. Haley’s playwriting and musical theatre compositions have recently appeared in the Shortwave Theatre Festival 2022 (Half Past Lunchtime) and the Watershed Festival’s New Works Showcase 2023 (The Lindworm’s Cabaret). Lately, Haley has been writing theatre reviews for the Kingston Theatre Alliance blog and creating crossword puzzles for neighbourhood newspaper the Skeleton Press.

Vince Ha - curator

Vince Ha is a writer-director who captures fragmentary moments and uses them to challenge issues of race, class, gender, and representation. He is pursuing his PhD in Screen Cultures and Curatorial Studies at Queen’s University, centering his research on two core themes: diasporic identities and queer archival methods. Currently, he is investigating transnational media and its relationship with queer diasporic sociality, with special attention to homoerotic representation in Asian cinema. His work has been presented locally at Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival, Gardiner Museum, Buddies in Bad Times, The ArQuives, and Hot Docs Rogers Cinema—and internationally in China, Denmark, Germany, Japan, Thailand, United Kingdom, the United States, and Vietnam.


Union Gallery extends sincere thanks to Kingston Arts Council and the City of Kingston through the City of Kingston Arts Funds (CKAF), Ontario Arts Council (OAC), and Queen’s University for providing operating funds which allows us to fund exhibitions and parallel programming like Gentle Disruptions. The Department of Film & Media and Agnes Etherington Art Centre for equipment support.

A big thank you to everyone who supported: Cassidy Alejandria, Amy Cai, Meenakashi Ghadial, Holly Gilmour, Hadley Howes, Bailey Laing, Jobelle Quijano, Hill Werth, and Fan Wu.

UNION GALLERY is funded and supported by Queen's University, Alma Mater Society (AMS), Society of Graduate and Professional Students (SGPS), Ontario Arts Council, City of Kingston Arts Fund–Kingston Arts Council and the City of Kingston, with partnerships with Stauffer Library, Cultural Studies and Screen Cultures and Curatorial Studies. As a student-centred public art gallery, we are generously funded through AMS and SGPS student activity fees (eligible for individual opt-out).