Meow Wolf is known for art and entertainment that are as distinctive as its name.
So it's fitting that several alumni from UNT's College of Visual Arts and Design -- who have established themselves with their inventive work -- are featured artists at Meow Wolf's newest immersive experience, which opened this month at Grapevine Mills mall. Titled "The Real Unreal," it became the fourth location for Meow Wolf, which began in Santa Fe in 2008.
Below, meet some of the alumni artists we caught up with whose works are featured. Also check out the Meow Wolf works of Leah Flook ('17), a Dallas-based visual artist, and Denton sculptor Morgan Grasham ('20 M.F.A.) and her husband, Eric ('23 M.F.A.), who earned his master's in ceramics this spring. Jacob Dominguez ('17) contributed as an exhibition art and scenic technician, and Jose Vazques ('22), art installation, and CVAD senior Hallow Geffert, creative execution, were interns on the exhibition team.
"It's melting. It's dripping. It's pouring its way down."
That's how Dan Lam ('10) describes her work that boasts its own room at Meow Wolf.
The triangular space features her trademark work called blobs, made of polyurethane foam and painted in bold colors, on one entire wall.
The work marks another high point in a career that includes celebrity fans such as Miley Cyrus and appearances on the cover of Dallas Observer and School Arts magazine.
"I think it definitely humbles me to know I can do it and people love my work enough that I can continue to do this," Lam says.
And it's permanent so, unlike her other exhibitions, her friends can see it. Lam has been talking about exhibiting with Meow Wolf since 2017, but when it came to Grapevine, it seemed the perfect fit for the Dallas-based artist.
Her Meow Wolf piece -- the largest of her career -- took about two months. The base was fabricated in New York, then shipped to Grapevine, where it was installed in pieces. She worked on sealing the seams to make it look smooth, then sanded, primed and painted the work.
The piece began as a 4-inch scale model -- then turned into a 15-by-15-foot installation.
"It was nice to be able to step back and say, 'Oh wow, I did that,'" she says.
-- Jessica DeLeón
Alexander Revier ('13) wants people to get euphoric from his weird art at Meow Wolf.
"I want people to say, 'What the hell is this? How did he get away with this? It's insane. I'm not sure if my child should see this. I love it.'"
Revier, who studied new media at UNT, is the artist behind a vibrant large-scale mural spanning multiple walls that is full of psychedelic characters.
"They're initially sweet in appearance because they are illustrative and colorful," he says, "but upon further observation some of them seem a bit wicked."
Before joining Meow Wolf, Revier felt burnt out and moved to the Pacific Northwest. On his drive back to Dallas, a Meow Wolf talent scout reached out to him asking to meet. He was driving through New Mexico at the time and visited the Santa Fe location the next day.
"It was kind of wildly very serendipitous. It felt meant to be. The timing was crazy," he says.
Creating art thereafter, he felt energized again.
"A year and a half had passed between when they asked me to participate and the actual painting of the mural, so finally being there felt so good," he says. "Being around all of the other talented artists was an incredible experience as well."
Revier says he usually applies meaning upon completion of a work of art, but with the Meow Wolf mural he had a vision from the beginning.
"The mural represents an alternate reality where old technologies, memories and malls never die, as they so often do."
He hopes he can paint more murals in the future and has an exhibition planned this November at the Ro2 Art Gallery in Dallas.
-- Amanda Lyons
Brooke Chaney ('12) had recently made her first outdoor mural when the Meow Wolf team approached her.
"I was shocked," she says. "At that point, I had only painted a few murals, but I was excited for the challenge."
Chaney -- who also goes by the name MOM after her college friends dubbed her the "mom friend" -- is a painter and contemporary artist who specializes in creating murals in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Her 300-square-foot mural at Meow Wolf features bright colors and shapes Chaney says she's never used before.
"I gained so much confidence from the support of others and my own determination to learn."
Chaney majored in fibers at UNT, interested in techniques such as screen printing, though later she discovered her love for painting. After graduating, she became a high school art teacher, but left the profession during the pandemic.
Meow Wolf discovered her work at the Wild West Mural Festival in Dallas.
Her passion for education remains. In her most recent project, she led a mural camp for young artists ages 12 to 16 in East Dallas. Together, they created a mural for Owenwood Farm & Neighbor Space, a building that hosts mutual aid and community programming like GROW North Texas, Diapers Etc., Hope Supply Co., Trans Empowerment Coalition, and White Rock Community Church. She has another mural planned for a parking garage at the Galbraith, an apartment complex in downtown Dallas. She also will collaborate with students on that mural.
"Even though I quit teaching, I can't get away from it. I have a soft spot."
-- Amanda Lyons
Meow Wolf lets people approach life as "a bit of an adventure," says artist and musician Carmen Menza ('99).
"I think that people need to have more unconventional experiences," she says. "It opens all of us to different possibilities and ways of thinking."
And that's how Menza, a jazz studies major, creates her works.
Menza's contribution to Meow Wolf are four distinct, light-based dioramas that connect the rooms through hallways with sound design.
Promise Me the Sun is a 57-inch round light box with materials that change colors and create optical illusions as visitors change their angle of incidence in front of it. Inspired by gothic architecture, Ghost Universe is a rounded triangle window that uses mirror-like materials and pulsating light to create movement and reflections.
Submerged is a lightbox that gives viewers a sense of mystery by using light-diffusing acrylics with LED lights.
"Much of my work concentrates on the concept of defamiliarization – pushing us to reconsider what we are looking at," she says.
On the second floor, her interactive work uses a webcam to pick up the presence of someone standing in front of it -- as they appear on a nearby TV monitor. She collaborated with visual effects artist/projectionist Joel Olivas ('16) on the animation and her husband Mark Menza, who studied for his master's in composition at UNT in the 1980s, on the music.
Menza frequently uses video, music and visual elements in her work, drawing on her experience in broadcast TV and as a guitarist.
"The idea is about how you can think outside of the box as an artist," she says. "Dream big and follow your passion."
-- Jessica DeLeón
Loc Hong Huynh ('20 M.F.A.), who is of Vietnamese and Chinese descent, blends his Asian and Texan cultures to create a subculture he calls "Texanese." These influences help bring his dynamic paintings to life, depicting visuals of his childhood, identity and "Texanese" background in his work. At Meow Wolf, his art is presented as a mural with a themed furniture installation.
"My culture and upbringing influences nearly everything about my work. I'm always drawing imagery from Vietnamese, Chinese, Western-American and Texan culture. My background has been a very rich and fertile source for content," says Huynh, who is originally from Austin and currently lives in Houston.
Huynh has showcased his art in exhibitions across Texas, as well as Los Angeles and New York. His colorful paintings contrast with his usual appearance, as he says he's normally "always wearing black." His unique, eye-catching art style comes from meticulously intuitive work and concentration.
"My paintings are not very traditional or realistic, but I employ a very traditional method in my process. I come up with a sketch, then I draw it like a thousand times before I even begin the painting. I listen to a range of music from 80s Japanese city pop to hardcore punk music to get me amped for my process," he says.
"The opportunity to work with Meow Wolf has given me the chance to make art in an unexpected way. It's helping me reach a broader audience, which has been very meaningful to my career."
-- Natasha Drake
When the outside world lacks inspiration, sometimes you need to look inside. For Monahans native Adam Palmer ('11 M.F.A.), looking inward meant taking inspiration from television.
"All my art was escapism," Palmer says. "It's not that I didn't like what was around me, but it was just kind of bleak."
As a child, he watched channels such as MTV and Nickelodeon for hours on end, mesmerized by singers like Prince and Boy George. His experiences molded his art style.
Now a high school art teacher living in Fort Worth, Palmer's work is coming to life at the Meow Wolf art gallery. His exhibit features dioramas laden with cartoon faces from his many years' worth of sketchbooks, previously unseen by the public.
"A lot of times the art I make is just to impress myself," Palmer says. "This is one of the first times I'm like, 'How can I make something that can impress everyone?'"
Palmer's art style features bright colors and abstract shapes, capturing the fun energy of the 1980s and 1990s. His artwork has been featured in exhibitions in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
"Some people complain about the Metroplex not having a lot of artsy things to do," he says. "There are a lot of galleries in Fort Worth and Dallas and now we have Meow Wolf. I just think it's another cool, artsy thing to go to."
-- Michael King