Opening of an “immersive” art exhibition at the Des Moines Art Center

You enter the Des Moines Art Center. Then you enter the space. Then you enter a trippy elevator.

  • The centre’s brand new exhibition, aptly named “Immersive”, will transport you to different worlds, thanks to a combination of video projections, sound and physical art.

Driving the news: The exhibition opens tomorrow and takes a page from the “immersive” art trend that is developing, such as the Van Gogh experience coming to Des Moines this year.

How it works: Visitors follow a dark path that guides them from room to room.

  • There are four different exhibits – two featuring artwork from the center’s permanent collection and two new pieces for the exhibit.

In one room, Matthew Willie Garcia, an artist based in Kansas City, combines paper art, video projection and sound to take the viewer on a “destabilizing”, yet “transcendent” experience through the Big Bang and the ‘space.

In another piece by popular Des Moines artist Oyoram, viewers find themselves waiting outside an elevator simulation created via LED monitors.

  • But once they step in, they are told seven stories, each with their own themes and meaning.
“Garden of Water” by Ran Hwang from 2010. Photo courtesy of Des Moines Art Center

The big picture: The inspiration for “Immersive” came from the 2020 pandemic, said Laura Burkhalter, the curator.

  • Because she couldn’t travel to find art, she remembered which pieces she wanted to show again from the permanent collection and it grew from there.
  • “I wanted to be away from my living room — we all felt locked in,” Burkhalter said. “It got me to focus on these beautiful pieces and the idea just kept growing.”

Thought bubble: The elevator was so real that I had motion sickness! (100% worth it.)

Where to find it: “Immersive” runs through June 5 at 4700 Grand Ave., Des Moines.

  • Free entry. hours are here.
Oyoram's work
“7even Stories High” by Oyoram. Photo courtesy of Des Moines Art Center

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Reggie S. Williams