How did you first hear about and become involved with Meow Wolf?
I'd heard of Meow Wolf through show flyers but was too shy to go. Then I ran into a friend from high school (from another state, it was a real movie moment) who had been involved since the beginning. He invited me to work with them on the installation "Horror", a haunted house style show that opened on Halloween in 2008. I was amazed by the ambition, creativity, flexibility, and the general capability of everyone at the first meeting I attended. I dove right in and never left!
How much time do you personally invest in each of the installations?
I think I can speak for the majority of us here; by the end of an installation we are all usually poor and exhausted! In the month or three before an opening (depending on the size of the project) I invest most of my time in our installations. So much that when we aren't working on one, I'm sometimes not sure what to do with myself! Its really a full time job when we're in full swing.
I've seen and read that most materials used in Meow Wolf works are repurposed. Is this mainly for budgetary reasons or is there a greater philosophy behind it?
For the most part we re-use materials for budgetary reasons, yes, but that is both because we have to AND because we want to. If it can be found or donated, reused repeatedly till used up, there's no real reason to buy it new. If we can re-use someone else's stuff, we can use our money for other things (something cool like a PA system or, you know, food) AND reduce waste in the community. Also, sometimes there is just no competition, aesthetically, between new and used objects. The layers of history on a reused object can be an abstractly beautiful thing.
Are the installations that you've completed planned out well in advance, or inspired by materials as you find them?
That depends on the installation. We have definitely done a couple installations with zero planning. But right now we are in our sixth(?) month of planning for a massive project we will be opening in May 2011. We are just beginning fabrication now and most things are blue-printed and concept-drawn already. This time we have elected a hierarchy of directors and project leaders (though some of those elections were "who wants to do this" "me" "good"). Its very unusual for us and its been a challenge, but this project is too big to do any other way. Conversely, previous projects have been too small or organic for this kind of structure to work, so this has happened very naturally with little or no messy politics.
What is the dynamic of completing installations with others like without having someone in an official leadership position to monitor how work is being done?
When the common goal is clear enough, and the process doesn't involve too much engineered construction, its really just getting together with your friends all day every day and working. Any visual or conceptual cohesion we've stumbled upon in our more unplanned installations has come from just working near each-other and constantly bouncing ideas around. The vital thing is the excitement, the commitment, and the we-can-do-anything attitude of the whole group. Also, though, we do very little editing. If someone wants to do something, usually the answer is "go for it" or "ok, how". This artistic acceptance makes for fewer hurt feelings and a lot more individual confidence. It also means that our combined aesthetic is usually over the top to say the least, but we like it that way.
What are upcoming projects that fans of Meow Wolf should anticipate?
"The Due Return"
We are building a 75x25x15 foot boat in CCA's 6000 square foot Munoz-Waxman gallery. The boat will be fully interactive with a bridge full of buttons, a laboratory full of mysteries, a lounge on the deck, a massive search-able archive, an indoor garden, engine rooms, bunks, and captain's quarters. The boat will be sitting in a glowing forest of alien trees, amid cliffs and caves, with odd creatures everywhere.
The planning stages alone have involved 35-40 dedicated artists, both veterans of Meow Wolf and brand new people. We expect that number to jump dramatically once we start construction. Anyone who wants to help is encouraged to start by coming to a meeting; Thursdays at 9pm, currently at 3134 Rufina, or email for more information.
This being our biggest project ever, it also needs the biggest fundraising. Anyone can donate online by visiting www.meowwolf.com/kickstart - any amount makes a big difference!
Check out Caity and the rest of Meow Wolf's artwork here. It's absolutely great.