Carolina News and Reporter’s Hallie Hayes interacts with art at Immersion Art.
A new interactive art experience in downtown Columbia provides an opportunity to attempt to capture the perfect Instagram selfie.
Immersion Art opened Aug. 21 on Main Street. The venue is located on the second floor of Columbia Main Course at 1626 Main St.
The experience allows spectators to enter eight different rooms designed by South Carolina artists. Inside the rooms, spectators can become a part of the artwork. Immersion encourages viewers to interact with the art, take photos and share them to social media.
Immersion hopes to bring in more artists, expanding to 14 rooms. Some of the artists involved with the Immersion experience include Christine Lufty, Lacey Hennessey, Ija Charles, Austin “SLIM” Gee and Taylor Smith.
Christine Lufty is a Columbia-based artist who particularly enjoys creating murals. Her first college studio art class inspired her love for painting.
“I love to bring light into dark places and bring happiness that individuals can feel when looking at my art,” Luftey said.
The creators of Immersion, who include Jonathan Hunt of Columbia, South Carolina, invited Lufty and other artists to create their own room within the interactive experience via social media.
Lacey Hennessey, based in Columbia, sells custom gifts and artwork, and creates murals through her business Hennessey In The Home. She also manages details for weddings and events, such as the decorations for the events.
“I wear many hats and am known as a chameleon of the arts because I often adapt to many styles,” Hennessey said.
For new visitors like me, the art embraces immediately. After taking the elevator to the second floor, I stood in front of abstract walls with a pop of color and a single piano in the middle of the room. Behind me, I was brushed by flowers hanging from the ceiling. As I turned around, I stared at a whimsical, wonderland inspired wall.
I wasn’t the only one who embraced the immediate greeting of art. Heather Nieves and her five-year-old son did too.
“I loved that from the moment you step off the elevator the experience begins,” Nieves, of Lexington, said. “It felt like we were in a movie!”
I spent the next hour traveling to eight different locations while never leaving the 6000-square-foot art space.
Room one brought me to a street-style, graffiti basketball court where I found myself posing with a multi-colored basketball. It’s okay if you’ve never touched a basketball before –I haven’t either. Room two was an India inspired hookah lounge. I was surrounded by draping red and gold tapestries that I couldn’t help but wrap myself in. I sat on the ground in front of the hookah for a photo.
I walked into an upside down universe when entering the third room. As I walked in, I was no longer on the floor but rather on the wall. A door tilted sideways in front of me; nothing was the way it would typically be. This room allowed for the most abstract photos.
I entered a room that glowed with captivating blue, green and purple art on the walls. I was surrounded by large chrome reptiles on the ground. I found myself hop-scotching from stone to stone alongside the reptiles.
I went to an origami book room and a pink inspired ice-cream shop created by Lacey Hennessey where I sat in a tub of colorful balls.
“I knew I wanted my room to be loud, bright, colorful and full of photo moments. I wanted to make as much in the room as possible and quickly decided on Ice Cream,” Hennessey said.
I then made a trip to the beach where the fake sand, Hawaiian flowers and beach ball inspired me to schedule an upcoming beach trip. The room was designed by Christine Lufty.
“‘Tropic like it’s Hot’ was inspired by me living at the beach. The beach has a special place in my heart so it was easy to think of what I wanted to do with my design,” Lufty said. “I wanted a room that could be relatable to all ages and have a bright, lively vibe to create your own oasis in.”
Every room made me experience a different feeling from calmness to excitement. After spending 45 minutes looking at art and taking every opportunity to capture the perfect photo for social media, I went to the final room.
It was filled with rainbow-colored carpet, 3D flowers from one wall, a female painted in a foreign land on the next and a cotton-candy sky with clouds hanging from the ceiling on the final. The art flowed together effortlessly. Messages such as “Your life, your dreams, go for it,” “Where will you go?” and “Sky’s the limit,” surrounded me. I took photos in front of neon signs and a stoplight because they were two objects in the room the immediately caught my attention.
“My favorite room was the one that glows. Feels like you’re in an avatar world,” Nieves said. “My son loved the upside down room, the origami room, and beach setup!”
As I walked from room to room, I appreciated every detail. I acknowledged the thought each artist put into their work.
“I wanted to make one wall look like 3D wallpaper, so I started brainstorming light, inexpensive objects that I could put over a wall I’d paint which evolved into the spoon wall on top of my hand painted sprinkles,” Hennessey said.
Immersion is opened Monday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Tickets can be bought at www.immersion.com.
A graffiti style basketball court at Immersion allows spectators to pose with a spray painted basketball.
Room eight offers a photo opportunity in front of a rainbow road carpet and neon traffic light.
Heather Nieves’ five-year-old son’s favorite room is one with hundreds of origami!
Carolina News and Reporter Hallie Hayes takes a photo hanging off of the wall in the upside down room.