I think the reason people love macarons is their colour. They taste great, sure, but you reach out for them, are lured by them the way bees are to flowers. You want to try each one. The orange, the pale pink, the dark purple – the odder the food colour the more you want them. That’s the power of colour. Which is what the not so new interactive, experiential colour exhibition in NY,NY celebrates colour with the Colour Factory. 16 rooms. 20 000ft. That’s a lot of coloured real estate. A hit in San Francisco the exhibition has been on in NY since October.
Over 14 NY artists have collaborated on this mammoth bubble gum enterprise. The idea is to observe the effects of colour, engage with colour, learn through colour, enjoy colour, experience it, touch it, feel it, speak its ebullient language, connect with it and be overjoyed by it. Poetry, food, objects, music, interactive games all contribute to the experience of colour.
But most importantly, the Colour Factory in downtown SoHo is fun. The colours not only free up a space and make it express itself, it frees up the visitors, much like a Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory does in the movies.
You are greeted by the sensuous poetry of Won McIntosh inspired by the urban shades of New York city and life. So you get lost in short but powerful verses like Subway Tile, Asphalt, Scaffolding – all beginning with the thought provoking line – You Are Here.
Quiet reverie rapidly changes to delight when you are greeted with deeply coloured macarons on a conveyor belt moving steadily with macaron elegance and being popped into greedy mouths to exclamations of “Yummm!.”
There’s a baby blue coloured ball pit to dive into. A wall with doodles and giant marker pens for you to leave your mark, curtains of VIBGYOR ribbons to make your way through, an orange room that the creator Tosha Stimage wants you to question what colour means. Being African American, she would like you to comprehend that colour is merely a surface. There are colour strips cascading from the ceilings. You want to touch them. It’s a natural impulse. A guide barks out a warning not to. You know you’re in NY . There is a wall of buttons. You want to touch them and thankfully you’re allowed to and pin them on your shirt. The sign mysteriously says you’ll need them later. All the pale blues are gone proving the research that says it’s the world’s most favourite colour. The cobalt blues are all there.
"Complimentary Compliments" by Christine Wong Yap gets strangers or friends face to face so you can draw portraits of each other paying special attention to the colours of course: hair, eye, skin, clothes, accessories.
The colour holiday does not end. It spills out into the city. You get a map that shows you more colour filled delights and you have to find them like a treasure hunt. There’s an ATM out there spitting out coloured bills.
Colour Factory is more than the hues that make us happy. It is about squealing with delight, sharing joy with strangers, a harmonious gathering of strangers, the lighter side of you. And yes, great instagrams.
Check out Colour Factory on Instagram and YouTube. Better still, get yourself to NY, NY.