Making it Through: Shakti, Meow Wolf artist on staying creative during COVID-19

Shakti Howeth, artist at Meow Wolf, continues to craft tiny floating worlds for future exhibits from her home during COVID19. She misses the quick skill sharing that comes with group life but has found power in concentration and comfort in alien podcasts.

How long have you been with Meow Wolf? 

A little over four years, but of course there's no time right now, so it's impossible to say.

What are you working on?

The sculpture that I was in progress with when quarantine started is a collaborative, collage-style hanging sculpture for [a future exhibition]. [Chris Hilson designed the collage and Shakti is transforming it into a 3D sculpture.] They represent, as far as I know, memory conglomerations that evolve over time and that have been stored or preserved in this underground place, whatever it is.

Crafting tiny floating worlds and contemplating the Earth itself, I feel as connected as ever to the planet and to every creature on it. It includes many little technical challenges and miniature elements which allow my mind to focus on what is in front of me and not spin out in stress. I feel so lucky to be able to do this work at this time.

For me art is a form of meditation and a process of discovery that feels like magic. To be able to take a few simple things and to use the physical energy of my body to rearrange these things, actualizing a vision, it's very empowering. 

Meow Wolf artist Shakti Howeth sculpts an arm from polymer clay and free-hands tattoos. Photo courtesy of the artist

What’s changed in your process since COVID?

Everything. Obviously the main, first thing is just space and not being in a studio and working from a tiny home space. . . and the second biggest thing is the people, because we all work together every day. We share a lot of ideas. We get advice from each other, learn a skill on the fly and apply it the same day. And right now we don't have that going on at all, which is a bummer. But it is also really nice to just dive into the details of what is that I can do on my own. 

Where are you drawing inspiration from?

Podcasts. My favorite podcast right now is called “Aliens Like Us” on Spotify with Rhys Darby. They talk about all things alien and UFO and there's a lot of humor in it. 

Inspired by actual architecture, Shakti wonders if this futuristic building is a little research facility studying this long planet. Photo courtesy of the artist.

What’s something most people don’t know about you?

My grandma and her husband ran a Polynesian dance company for years called Tiare Productions in Southern California. He’s Samoan and she's American and they just got together and did this dance thing. And so I did get to participate in that as a kid and it actually felt like the most beautiful, magical reality that I wanted to be a part of. I was just thinking, “I'm going to grow up and be a hula dancer and take over the company.” It was just a little five-year-old’s dream–and then their other kids really did do that! [It’s called Tupua now.]

What’s your next big passion project?

I think my passion project right now is getting these exhibits out and done. 

It’s just what I experience when I observe or listen to or look at good art–I feel that I'm receiving a transmission of that person's energy combining with other mysterious forces and that it has a lot of meaning and it's tangible. And so I guess that's my role model. I want to be that meaningful. I want to be able to participate in creating something that's that juicy and good for somebody else.

Work in progress by Meow Wolf Artist Shakti Howeth. Photo courtesy of the artist.
Work in progress by Meow Wolf artist Shakti Howeth. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Follow Shakti on Instagram!