Matt King, co-founder of immersive art collective Meow Wolf, passes away

Matt King as the creative director of Santa Fe-based Meow Wolf, through his immersive installations, created experiences that altered the way we perceive the world.

by STIRworldPublished on : Jul 21, 2022

Matt King, the co-founder of Meow Wolf, passed away on July 9 at the age of 37, leaving behind a legacy of immersive art installations that he began more than a decade ago in Santa Fe, New Mexico with a community of punk, quirky, artistic pals. During the inaugural meeting of the art collective in 2008, all team members drew two words from a hat. Meow Wolf was one of the words that popped up. So started the narrative of the art group that has been taking audiences to wonderful adventures engaged in visual storytelling across the United States. King founded Meow Wolf alongside Sean Di Ianni, Corvas Brinkerhoff, Emily Montoya, Caity Kennedy, Benji Geary, and Vince Kadlubek and has been a part of 34 art installations for the community.

Detail of Fancy Town installation at Meow Wolf House of Eternal Return, Santa Fe, New Mexico | Matt King| STIRworld
Detail of Fancy Town installation at Meow Wolf House of Eternal Return, Santa Fe, New Mexico Image: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

King’s most famous work, the award-winning House of Eternal Return is located in Santa Fe, USA. The work allows for discovering a multidimensional mystery house with secret passages, portals of magical worlds, and surrealist, often maximalist exhibitions. It has received over two million visitors. Previously in an interview with STIR, King described the work saying, “How do you describe a life-altering metaphysical experience in a few words? I could write a book on what it was like to live through the making of The House! Especially because I cannot talk about the House and remove the cumulative years of experience that was the creation and development of Meow Wolf as an entity, philosophy, and ethos. So, let me try to share an abstract of what this experience was like. The making of House of Eternal Return was an awakening. To open my eyes inside of a dream, every moment connecting deeper alternative realities and dimensions until one day all understanding of what is real was subverted and I was left with an awareness that truly anything is possible if you let go and fully allow the magic of the universe to take the helm.”

Matt King working on the site of Kaleidoscope | Meow Wolf | Matt King| STIRworld
Matt King working on the site of Kaleidoscope Image: Courtesy of Meow Wolf

King created and collaborated on 34 Meow Wolf projects including Omega Mart in Las Vegas, and he was the primary artist on The Cathedral at Meow Wolf Denver, and several other interactive installations including the Laser Harp and the Fancy Town at the House of Eternal Return. The Fancy Town project, which looks like an Old West ghost town composed of reclaimed scrap wood and construction trash, also serves as an event space. King designed the surrounding walls to make it look like antique stores.

Within the House of Eternal Return | STIRworld
Within the House of Eternal Return Image: Kate Russell, Courtesy of Meow Wolf

In the beginning, King and his colleagues produced fantastical and futuristic immersive art spaces, as well as organised music concerts and parties. By 2022, the firm had expanded to 900 employees and a $158 million revenue. When King lived in Texas, he taught outdoor education to grade-school students in Dallas-Fort Worth and had plans to start a summer camp. He was a multi-instrumentalist musician in addition to being a visual artist.

Trash Temple uses garbage and waste material to create an immersive experience | Trash Temple by Meow Wolf | STIRworld
Trash Temple uses garbage and waste material to create an immersive experience Image: Corrine Loperfido, Courtesy of Meow Wolf

The reason for Matt King’s death was not disclosed. Meow Wolf issued a public invitation for a meeting and tribute to King at the Scottish Rite Temple on Friday, July 15, 2022.

Meow Wolf’s immersive life size installation Image: Courtesy of moew__wolf on Instagram

(Text by Vatsala Sethi, Asst. Editorial Coordinator (Arts))

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