Matt King, artist and visionary co-founder of Immersive Art Giant Meow Wolf, has died at 37

Matt King, one of the co-founders and driving forces behind Meow Wolf, the immersive arts and entertainment company founded in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 2008, died Saturday, July 9. Raised in Arlington, Texas, he was 37 years old. No further details of King’s death have been made public, although Meow Wolf’s Facebook page described it as “sudden”.

The society displayed a memorial to King on social media on Monday afternoon. He said, “Matt’s work as a collaborator and artist was like no other: monumental, groundbreaking, otherworldly, and wild. It is a huge loss for the world. And we are extremely grateful to have shared time and space with him.

King was a key figure behind a company that the New York Times Review once described as “the Disney of the experience economy.” Contributing to Meow Wolf’s flagship project in Santa Fe, Jthe house of eternal return, a 20,000 square foot facility that included a concert hall and an art installation,King was also instrumental in creating dozens of other creative projects associated with the company.

Meow Wolf co-founders Sean Di Ianni, Matt King, Corvas Brinkerhoff, Emily Montoya, Caity Kennedy, Benji Geary and Vince Kadlubek at Omega Mart in Las Vegas, 2021. Photo courtesy of Meow Wolf.

During the group’s early years, King was instrumental in creating some of the surreal environments for which the company would become famous, including futuristic settings straight out of a Stanley Kubrick film. meow wolf eventually became the home of finicky artists and designers of all kinds.

“Matt was present at the very first Meow Wild reunion in 2008,” reads the company’s memorial, “along with Quinn Tincher, [they] created Meow Wolf’s first immersive art exhibit before anyone at Meow Wolf even knew what immersive art was.

Originally founded as an artist collective – involving King, Sean Di Ianni, Corvas Brinkerhoff, Emily Montoya, Caity Kennedy, Benji Geary and Vince Kadlubek – Meow Wolf quickly grew into a multi-million dollar art business.

“We started in 2008 as just a bunch of DIY artists who got together to make art, throw parties and put on music shows in a warehouse in Santa Fe,” Sean Di Ianni, one group co-founders, said in 2021. “We now have a team of painters and sculptors, graphic designers, lighting and sound artists, people working with augmented and virtual reality, digital artists and programmers, costumers and designers. ‘performers and designers of all types.’

Just a decade after its founding, with offshoots and pop-up facilities established across the country, the company generated more than $158 million in revenue and employed 900 people.

C Street Meow Wolf Denver. Photo by Kennedy Cottrell, courtesy of Meow Wolf.

In total, King has been involved in at least 34 Meow Wolf projects over the years. “We will honor the spirit of Matt by carrying forward his genius in our work and in our daily lives, building on the monumental legacy he leaves behind,” Meow Wolf CEO Jose Tolosa wrote in a statement. “Thousands of people have been deeply touched by the artistic genius of his work, and nothing speaks more of Matt’s influence than the Meow Wolf community that comes together in his honor.”

Marsi Gray, Senior Creative Producer at Meow Wolf, echoed that sentiment. “Matt, one of the founders of Meow Wolf, has been such a lovely, darling, beautiful, fun, hilarious, hilarious, amazing presence that has been foundational over the past 4.5 years that I’ve worked with the business,” she said in a statement. “Such a hard worker, so dedicated and probably the most beloved human in our entire company. Our spirit animal. Laughter and play hung around him, constantly. I think of Matt and I think of laughter.

The entrance to the Meow Wolf Omega Mart in Area 15 in Las Vegas.  Photo courtesy of Meow Wolf.

The entrance to the Meow Wolf Omega Mart in Area 15 in Las Vegas. Photo courtesy of Meow Wolf.

His contribution to the Santa Fe art scene touched manywith tributes flock to the social networks of those who knew King, but also those who have simply been touched by his art.

In a interview with Sarah Cascone of Artnet News in October 2021, King spoke about his desire to see people question the nature of reality through Meow Wolf’s immersive artwork. “What we want is for people leaving to wonder what the reality is,” he said. “Who am I, what am I, what can I really do to bring about positive change in the world? We are not dystopian, that is not our vision. We do not want unhappiness and sadness.

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