August 27, 2012 at 9:52 AM

Meow Wolf’s CHIMERA

“Crowdsourcing art and funding…”

By Tom Maguire

Culture Vulture

Tom Maguire is a musician, arts supporter and a guy who travels the Southwest in a 13’ Scamp trailer, because he couldn’t figure out how the tent poles went together.

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If you have not been following the ebb and flow of creativity in Santa Fe in the past couple of years or have been living off the grid or under a rock, you may not be very aware of Meow Wolf’s impact on the creative life of Santa Fe. Yes, we know that Santa Fe has more than 200 art galleries and that Indian Market brings nearly 100,000 people to our community because of art, but where is the innovation and amazingly creative thinking and doing happening? Meow Wolf, that’s where!

Meow Wolf is the artists 'collective that has produced outstanding creative projects in Santa Fe, including: “Geodecadent,” I and II, “Habitats,” “The Due Return,” “Congress of Collectives,” “Glitteropolis” and, since last year, CHIMERA, an ongoing outreach initiative.

CHIMERA is Meow Wolf's educational outreach program, teaching collaborative interdisciplinary arts practice through hands-on project-based learning.

CHIMERA had a fantastic launch last year, working with 1,300 students across Santa Fe, culminating in the amazing “OmegaMart” exhibit. The CHIMERA project employed 22 different Meow Wolf artists as instructors, supplying paid employment for young artists in need of the work.

Collaboration is something that Meow Wolf has been exploring intimately for years. By going into the public school system and directly into art classrooms, Meow Wolf has been imparting this sense of collaboration and inclusion to young people throughout Santa Fe. Meow Wolf artists work hands-on with students in a variety of artistic media in each class. Students receive an abundance of one-on-one attention from Meow Wolf artists as they work in teams to conceptualize, design and create imaginative collaborative pieces that will become integral aspects of Meow Wolf public art installations like “The Due Return” and go on to be viewed by thousands of visitors.

Meow Wolf states that its “primary goal is that, through CHIMERA, youth will begin to understand the power of working together and will learn the core skills necessary for positive collaborative work. It is our hope that these values can ultimately transcend art-making and permeate into other aspects of student's everyday lives.”

In the first year of its launch, CHIMERA worked in partnership with the Center for Contemporary Arts. CHIMERA instructors engaged with more than 1,300 youth throughout Santa Fe, in three exciting projects, creating non-traditional sculptures and short video pieces, and focusing the program heavily on the media literacy and design skills needed to create work for “OmegaMart.”

Meow Wolf has launched a crowdsource funding campaign at Indiegogo.com to help fund the CHIMERA program throughout the year. I think this kind of funding platform is the ideal way to help small, progressive, creative projects: crowdsource funding for a crowdsource creative project, as crowdsouring is just another way to express one’s self through collaboration. Big donors will never dominate this process and funding partners will never even come close to altering the artistic vision of a project to align with their personal aesthetic views. Be it a project through Kickstarter as “The Due Return” was or, in CHIMERA’s case, indiegogo.com, funding a project through crowdsourcing is the most democratic (small d”) and egalitarian way to support your favorite artistic project. It is simple: you like the project, you want it to succeed, you go to indiegogo.com and contribute what you can to MAKE it happen and feel a part of it. I’m headed there right now to contribute and, in my small way, to help these extraordinary artists continue to amaze me and the community with their vision, their creativity and their generosity of spirit  towards me and the community, as a whole.

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