If you’re in Santa Fe, New Mexico, you might find some unexpected surprises on your next neighborhood stroll. In partnership with the City of Santa Fe, and spearheaded by Meow Wolf and District 1 City Councilor Sig Lindell, Meow Wolf artists have designed and produced four Little Free Libraries where neighbors can freely exchange books and enjoy community art.
Like many Meow Wolf projects, this was a true collaboration. Meow Wolf artists Chris Hilson, Emilio Pinchera, Zach Sawan, Ben Ortega, Sam Taccetta, and Justin Crouch each created a unique art installation that redefines what a Little Free Library can be. Liz Thorp, Francesca Searer, Sean Di Ianni and Danika Padilla supported the effort from conception to completion in efforts to tie in community projects with art production.
“As a Certified B Corporation, Meow Wolf is constantly working to support our local communities,” says Padilla, Sr. Director of Social Impact for Meow Wolf. “Together with the City of Santa Fe, Meow Wolf is proud to be bringing more art to our neighborhood, and encouraging reading and literacy in our city.”
Padilla reached out to Sig Lindell about the Little Libraries, and Sig agreed to help move the project forward, “Meow Wolf is an environment with creative young minds, unbridled imagination and enthusiasm,” says Lindell.
The process to create the libraries was unique to several of the artists because typically, they have projects handed off to them to fulfill a specific scope, but this was the first project they had the artistic autonomy to creative direct and execute on their designs.
Meow Wolf Co-Founder Sean Di lanni was the Creative Director for the overall project, and sees these projects as potential for fresh inspiration around the studios. Di lanni states, “the Little Free Library projects are intended to be beneficial to the creative ecosystem that Meow Wolf is a part of. Inside Meow Wolf, the project has provided a self-directed opportunity for Meow Wolf artists to explore new ideas and processes, and provide a much needed creative break from the rigors and schedule constraints of large scale production. Beyond that, it provides a format for those artists to share their work with our community and offer a small, but meaningful service to the place we love to call home.”
Emilio Pinchera, a Senior Artist, created the Hexaflake-ious, a floating diamond creature from a distant mineral world. “I imagine Hexaflake-ious having a little family of mineral diamond babies,” says Pinchera. Pinchera comes from a background of automotive paints for flashy and eye popping lowriders, “I’m looking for the WOW effect! Anything less is unacceptable.” Made with eight layers of traditional lowrider rainbow-flake paint, Hexaflake-ious was inspired by his son, who has been learning shapes in first grade. Pinchera proudly worked on the paint job for all of the Little Libraries, in collaboration with the other artists.
Ben Ortega, an interdisciplinary artist working with digital and analogue fabrication tools, brought Phonics to life, Santa Fe’s new urban pet. Phonics is a method for teaching people how to read and write an alphabetic language by demonstrating the relationship between the sounds of the spoken language and the letters or groups of letters or syllables of the written language. “Reading Rabbit and Hooked on Phonics were games I played as a child that helped me get over the initial humps of reading,” he explains. “I want to develop a story in which Phonics encourages books and people to come together and enjoy each other's company.” In creating Phonics, Ortega was inspired by the narrative behind Pizza Pals Playzone, an installation from Los Angeles-based art collective Everything Is Terrible! at Meow Wolf’s Convergence Station. “The narrative is an important part of the character for me, because then it becomes less of an object and more of a character that people can connect with...Maybe Phonics will start to identify with their location and context, and people will start thinking of them as a pet in the urban context.”
Sam Taccetta, a fabricator and craftsperson working primarily in metal, created a Little “TV” Library inspired by the television from his early childhood in the late ‘80s. “I hope people are curious and drawn to it from a distance like, ‘What is an old TV doing out in the park?’, and then surprised and excited as they get closer and see the books inside through the screen,” Taccetta says. He took this opportunity to work on his 3D modeling and fabrication skills, explaining “It’s the first thing I have made here where I was given free rein from concept to design and fabrication.” Taccetta is hoping that this Little “TV” Library will get people, especially kids, more excited to pick up some books and read.
Little Free Library is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to be a catalyst for building community, inspiring readers, and expanding book access for all through a global network of volunteer-led Little Free Libraries. Through this Little Libraries collaboration with the City of Santa Fe, Meow Wolf supports access to books, literacy, and community building through public art.