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Early last March, my friend Amber texted me and asked if I would be interested in going with her to "Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience." At that time, Covid vaccines were just rolling out. I was hoping things would be different by the September date she suggested, so I agreed. We picked a date to hit up the exhibit, then I mostly forgot about it.

Last week, Amber reminded me that our Van Gogh Experience was upon us and wanted to make sure I was still good to go. What I had forgotten was that we picked a Wednesday morning for the exhibit and I was going to play hooky. Things have been pretty hectic for me lately, so I was ready to act like Ferris Bueller and take the day off.  There was a joy in skipping out for the day that I hadn't had in a long time. Luckily, I didn't have to go full Ferris Bueller and fake a stomach bug or lick my hands. I simply said (more than once) to Scott that I wouldn't be at work. 

Amber and I headed to DC for our adventure. We knew we were in the right place when we could see the warehouse with an exterior that resembled the sky in a Van Gogh painting. Architecturally speaking, the interior was still just a warehouse. Space was created using the existing exterior walls, temporary walls, and hanging curtains to create a wall-like feeling. Combined with low lighting and classical music, it was easy to forget you were in a warehouse and focus on the exhibits.

The exhibit started with a timeline of Van Gogh's life. Next was a giant, white bust of his head. One self-portrait after another was projected onto the bust to create a very cool slideshow. There were also white canvases on the wall that also had Van Gogh paintings projected on them. Movies and 3D recreations of paintings rounded out the early exhibit. Next was the piece de resistance, a huge room that made you feel like you stepped into a Van Gogh painting. We truly were immersed as images of hay caught in a breeze blew across the floor to coincide with the hayfields gently swaying on the walls. Life was given to the paintings through movement. Viewers were encouraged to sit on benches or lay on carpets and beanbags on the floor. It was a truly unique way to interact with the art and get to know the artist.   

description of Van Gogh painting
Information about Van Gogh's "Bedroom at Arles"
3D interpretation of a Van Gogh painting
"Bedroom at Arles"  painting recreated in 3D.

When we finally had our fill, we left the immersive room and were encouraged to sit and color our own Van Gogh works. Of course, Amber and I grabbed a couple of pictures and made our way to the tables with crayons. It was a great way to express our inspiration and let our inner artists express themselves. Experience goers were encouraged to have their own works projected and could also stick them on the walls. 

women standing in front of a wall of paintings
Here I am playing Vanna White to show off  the pictures Amber and I colored. 

Much like Ferris Bueller, we experienced art and allowed it to move us. I was able to step away from some of my stressors. I tried not to worry about what I should have been doing instead. After all, Ferris taught us "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." Thanks to Amber, I didn't miss this experience, even if we didn't steal a convertible or hop on a parade float. 

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