With much anticipation, Van Gogh New Orleans: The Immersive Experience opened in the Scottish Rite Temple in the CBD last week. The multi-faceted exhibit allows the curious party to truly delve into the life, the places, and the mind of one of the most fascinating artists in history: Vincent van Gogh.
As you wander through the exhibit (which I won’t tell you all of the surprises that await you), you learn about the man and his lifestyle. An artist who was so concerned about viewing, owning, and creating art that he would rather forgo food at times just to have more money for it. You can enter into his little room in Arles, feeling his humility. You can put crayon to paper to create a work of art based on one of his. You can also enter into the massive, overwhelming theater room that literally washes every inch of space including you with his works that now swirl and move around you. Water crashes from his paintings, ancient stone buildings that he passed every day construct and crumble around you, and raindrops lightly and quietly fall to the ground. You can easily spend hours in this space that beckons you to sit and absorb the scenes in a sling chair on laying on the floor.
My favorite part was absolutely the virtual reality experience. You find yourself in his room at first before you walk out of the little country house through the fields, through the forest, and through the village to the Rhone River. Along the way, Vincent speaks to you his own words taken from his many letters. You make brief stops to see a scene that a painting was based off of, and it’s there that you understand how Vincent could see something from his life and turn it into a work of art.
Besides the sense of awe that you leave with, you also may feel a sense of under-appreciation. In his lifetime, Vincent van Gogh sold but one painting. His three sisters hardly cared for his works during his life and after his death. In fact, it was his sister-in-law that was his biggest fan, and she championed his art and his legacy. As you learn more about Vincent van Gogh, his lifestyle and his emotional state, learn to appreciate those around you that much more while they are still with us. Shop at the local businesses to support families in your community. Buy art from unknown artists and display it proudly. Appreciate the things that you purchase from artisans and craftsmen not just because it’s an object you want but because they took time out of their life to make it for you as an extension of themself.