Collaborative Art Santa Fe: Pt. III The third in a series of profiles of collaborative art ventures in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Meow Wolf built it, and they came.
The big ship has sailed. If you didn’t get around to enjoying The Due Return, you missed one of the most ambitious, awe-inspiring, jubilant art adventures this town has ever seen. The exhibit had QR codes, video, and sea trees that changed colors. These and other interactive elements “helped submerge the audience into a fully-operating fictional world.”
I have been a fan of Meow Wolf’s hearts-out approach to creation since I spent a bent-necked hour sucking in the delights of Geodecadent I, a swirling dome of 20th-century household flotsam. Meeting the team only cemented my fandom. Never once have I found a member to be snobby or self-important. Fun, humble, curious and free-spirited, The Meow Wolf Pack is potent with all the hope and possibility of children: good for the art world and the kids they’ll be serving through CHIMERA, a cooperative program between Meow Wolf and The CCA.
Following is Changing Gallery’s 2011 interview with Vince Kadlubek, a founding member of Meow Wolf, who generously answered my many questions.
How did Meow Wolf get its start? Did you guys know one another already?
I had just been let go by W21 and I felt the need to carry the energy I had from that –the frustration, the skills, the passion– into a project of my own. Found a space for rent, called people that I knew and knew of, and we committed to the concept.
Why a big ship? Did this spur off of a past project or was it an entirely new idea?
Entirely new idea. It was originally from the mind of Chris Hilson, and then quickly became a collaborative idea between about 25 people. We create ideas that act as containers for collaboration and inclusion. The ship was perfect for such.
How did you choose who joined the expanded Meow Wolf, or did you take on whoever came and was willing to work, or…?
Meow Wolf is entirely open door. Individuals choose their own level of involvement. The more they are around, the more they are a part of MW, the more responsibility they are entrusted with, the more ownership they feel, which leads back into the being around more.
How did you determine who would do what?
First, it is who wants to do what. And then, for the The Due Return, I personally asked specific people that I trusted to act as ‘leads’ of certain areas. It was a first for us, but with a project so large it was entirely necessary. Ultimately, though, people can do whatever they want.
Did you get what you wanted out of the experience?
Hahaha… Uh, yes. Personally speaking, yes. I got to supply our community with an amazing, unique, and vivid memories.
You mentioned the possibility of working with elementary school kids ongoingly & pursuing a grant for this. Is this going to happen?
Meow Wolf is currently involved with an Educational Outreach Program, code-named “Kinderblitz”, in collaboration with CCA. [ed. note: since our interview, this program has been unveiled under the name CHIMERA – Collaborative, Hands-On, Immersive, Multi-Disciplinary Education Raising Artists!] The program will involve all ages of student. We definitely need funding!
Other projects? Tell me about the shows in New York and Las Cruces?
Flux Factory in NYC is organizing a conference, month-long event, called “Congress of the Collectives.” MW was invited, and we will be participating in discussions, presentations, as well as creating an installation inside the main space. NMSU down in Las Cruces invited us to produce a show in their 3500 sq. ft. gallery. The show will open in late November. It will be decadent and fabulous.
Who inspires you, artwise?
Me personally? Disneyland. Tarantino, PT Anderson, Aronofsky, Terrance Malick, Nick Toll, David Foster Wallace, Animal Collective, tons of other bands/musicians. But to reiterate, that is just me.
Anything you want people to know about Meow Wolf, what you do, what you stand for, etc.?
Meow Wolf continues to learn deeper reasons for being as we move from project to project. A most recent revelation for me has been what a tremendous asset we are for newcomers to Santa Fe. A 22 year old gets their BFA, moves to Santa Fe, and can instantly plug in with us, finding a social group, art materials, art space, and projects to be a part of, etc.
Anything coming up about which I should know/which I should promote?
We got something in May we wanna keep quite for now. But, in November, we’d love for people to visit us at Recycle Santa Fe!