by Melanie Gruenwald
My family recently visited Meow Wolf, an immersive art experience that opened in Denver, September, 2021. Stepping into the exhibit was like traveling down Alice’s Rabbit Hole- a place where time and space were transcended.
According to the Meow Wolf website, participants:
Discover immersive psychedelic, mind-bending art and an underlying rich narrative as you take a journey of discovery into a surreal, science-fictional epic.
In a building with over 70 installations, from over 300 artists- we were transported and transformed.
We wandered through the exhibit, each room a different sensory experience. We wondered how we got from point a to point b, and found ourselves, and each other, in the experience.
It was impossible to separate from my lens of kabbalah. I walked into a room with an image of sefirot (related to how to clean laundry!), constantly encountered light, darkness, unseen reality, masks- and stories of transformation. The subtext of the installation felt very kabbalistic to me, and I wondered what the artists’ knowledge of Jewish mysticism might have entailed.
The narrative I walked away with was that of interconnectedness, light, transformation, and engagement. I had to show up physically, spiritually, and emotionally, in order to fully have the Meow Wolf experience. I had to choose to step into their narrative in order to create my own.
Brene Brown’s writing introduced me to Theodore Roosevelts “Citizenship on a Republic” Speech:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
As with Meow Wolf, such is life. We have to immerse ourselves in the arena, in order to fully experience it. We need to choose to show up, for both the light and the darkness, the whole-ness and brokenness of it all. We can’t merely exist on the sidelines, waiting for ‘life to happen’ or to be able ‘make sense’ of it all. It is up to us to dive into that arena, and choose to make meaning. We have to recognize that it is our choice in how we manifest the meaning and the narrative of that experience.
May we each find the ability to show up, present ourselves fully and create the meaning from our experiences. May we find we are not alone in our journeys and in the light and darkness. It is the darkness that helps us to see the light. It is the light of the others that will help guide us, and our own light that will help to guide others.
PS If you have time in Denver, check out Meow Wolf. I’d love to know what you experience!