I have often appreciated the escapism element of creative outlets. People gravitate towards the cinema — even in times of financial hardship — to slip into another world for an hour or two. We listen to music to drift into melodic escape, fleeing from the confines of our world for a spell as the sound carries us someplace else. When I put a brush to a canvas or open up a fresh document to start a new poem or story, I always pause for a moment to appreciate the utter bareness of my platform before I begin the transformation. When you create different dimensions—either literally or figuratively—it is a wondrous feeling. To sit back and gaze at your work seems nothing short of spectacular when you consider how entirely bare the canvas previously was.

This past week, I was able to participate in an interactive artistic event that reminded me just why creativity is such a vital element in life. Even before I started painting, I have always been a huge fan of art, spending many well-loved afternoons of my youth traversing the streets of Manhattan to visit my favorite spots or crossing the bridge to Brooklyn to see what new attractions popped up overnight. Something I love about Los Angeles is the vibrancy of the colors, the way the street art pops out at you in vivid, vibrant form with lines that scream energy. That’s why I immediately said yes at the invitation to accompany a friend to a showing of 29Rooms in downtown L.A.

With events in both New York and L.A., 29Rooms is an interactive artistic experience brought to life by the collaboration of a group of global artists and visionaries. The theme for this year’s event was “Turn It Into Art,” and the entire experience was constructed around letting the spectators step into 29 separate art spaces and become part of each creation designed by one of dozens of talented designers.

“Come create, play and explore our multi-sensory playground, where we will celebrate the transformative power of creativity. Make your way through each of the 29 individually curated rooms that are packed with magic and brimming with inspiration,” the event website reads.

The event featured many spectacular rooms, such as the first station that was created by artist Alexa Meade. This artist is someone I highly recommend checking out, as her whole style involves painting real people so that they resemble artwork. The results are truly breathtaking as she literally allows people to embody the creation. At her station, plenty of well-polished viewers slipped into colorful, painted jackets and waved parasols and top hats as they, too, become a part of her creation.

It has often been asked — does art imitate life or life imitate art? This is a question akin to the chicken and the egg — are we ever really able to pinpoint a beginning? By slipping into art and smudging the distinction between the confines of the literal world and the endless possibility of the sphere of creation, we allow a lot of the burdens we carry with us on a daily basis to dissolve or lighten. Art personally brings me joy and tranquility, as well as the almighty relief and inner pride accompanied by adequate self-expression.

Events like these tap into the spirit and wonder of childhood. It is fun to dress up in painted jackets, throw glitter into the air, blow bubbles, lay in a giant womb and have your dreams sung back to you by a talented young singer with a sultry voice in a room filled with warm, orange light.

There was also a level of activism present in the experience that is also a vital element in truly powerful works of art. In addition to promoting gender equality and acceptance of all forms of identification, one room was filled with postcards and the mailing address for all state representatives. Spectators were encouraged to fill out a card delineating their concerns and drop it into a box to be mailed free of charge. I often think the sheer meaning and power of art can be lost on the surface, but there is always a message at the core — even if your creation is a urinal or canvas filled with one color of paint.

Are you ready to fuel your imagination? No matter your outlet — cinema, music, art, writing, dancing or whatever it might be — don’t undervalue the importance of self-expression. Play can be a powerful thing, and should by no means be reserved for only the very young.

Emma Polini is the managing editor of the Van Alstyne Leader, Anna-Melissa Tribune and Prosper Press. What do you want in your paper? Email her at epolini@heralddemocrat.com to let her know.