Review: Traveling art experience ‘29Rooms’ is an Instagram influencer’s paradise

The ACLU created this "Values Stand" for '29Rooms' in line with the recurring theme of activism (Julia Nikhinson/The Diamondback).

Refinery29’s traveling art exhibit, “29Rooms,” has officially landed in Washington, D.C., and it looks like it’s built for Instagram — in a good way.

The exhibit is built more like an interactive experience than a traditional look-don’t-touch art showcase. Different art pieces, or “rooms,” were sprinkled throughout the main room of the D.C. Armory; At every piece, a “29Rooms” employee offered to take pictures of visitors and even give advice on the most Insta-worthy poses.

D.C.-native singer Kali Uchis collaborated with 29Rooms to create “Dream Doorways” — a visualization of the obscurity in our dreams (Julia Nikhinson/The Diamondback).

It might seem reductionist for the focus of this art to be on how it could be shared on social media. But as a viewer, it was freeing. I allowed myself to fully interact with the pieces — and take fun photos with them — without the fear of being judged. Two of the pieces were literally just colorful lights and small stools, encouraging viewers to explore their photography skills and discover which rainbow colors look best on their faces.

The primary themes of “29Rooms” were social justice and self-care. The ACLU created “The Values Stand” for “29Rooms,” promoting its Rights for All campaign through a bodega-style piece outfitted with “Racial Justice Now” soda cans and feminism-themed newspapers. Artist Uzumaki Cepeda recreated her ‘90s childhood room in my favorite piece at the exhibit, “Teen Bedroom.” She used fluffy, bright-colored fur to cover every surface in the room to emphasize the importance of building your own safe space, and the throwback video games and posters made for a nice touch.

The ACLU’s vibrant and attention-grabbing “Values Stand” was plastered with statements of activism (Julia Nikhinson/The Diamondback).

Unbothered, a segment of Refinery29, put together a piece entitled “A Long Line of Queendom,” focusing on the oft-forgotten accomplishments and sacrifices of black women, as well as the cultural trends they’ve created. The piece featured a golden durag, a chain of bamboo hoop earrings and a painted mural listing iconic moments in black history.

“A Long Line of Queendom” is a celebration of black women and their accomplishments in collaboration with Refinery29’s vertical publication, Unbothered (Julia Nikhinson/The Diamondback).

And perhaps most importantly, “29Rooms” offered a way for attendees to get in touch with their inner creative through the “Dance Break” room, where you were free to dance along with upbeat music, and the “Now Casting: Female Storytellers” set, where you could create a story and its leading lady. These two were among more pieces where the art was not complete without the help of the viewer.

In this Prudential-sponsored room on financial wellness, attendees were invited to solve puzzles with a group to learn more about personal finance (Julia Nikhinson/The Diamondback).

“29Rooms” is a fun and exciting experience for anyone willing to get in touch with their creative side and try out new things. The exhibit is open in D.C. through Oct. 27 and tickets are still available for certain dates.

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