Something about the old sprinkler pipe, the way its black metal has corroded and blossomed in bright patches of rust, puts a smile on Matt King's face.
"Perfectly aged," he says. "Like gold to me."
The 31-year-old artist thinks it will look great in his latest creation, a room he has transformed into a ghost town with scrap lumber and construction detritus. His portable band saw growls to life as he begins cutting.
"Turning your capitalistic trash into freedom of expression," he says.
King belongs to an eccentric group of painters and sculptors who have spent most of a decade working at the fringes of the conventional art world.
Calling themselves "Meow Wolf," they have earned a reputation for using whatever materials they can scavenge to build fantastical exhibits that are part haunted house and part jungle gym — giant artwork that people can step inside.
These immersive shows — a psychedelic cave, a junk-filled dome — have grown progressively more elaborate. Now, after years of surviving on shoestring budgets, Meow Wolf has persuaded investors to pour millions of dollars into something even bigger.
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