01 nov MM david loughridge 1

One of the scores of photos taken by early Meow Wolf member David Loughridge.

A girl sits against an adobe wall smoking a cigarette. A shirtless guy, with a ponytail and tattoos, stands amid an enormous, wooden art installation. Faded, ghostlike figures wander and rest in the streets of Santa Fe.

The photos in the book Of Infinite Space: the Photography of David Loughridge (Meow Wolf Press, $50) memorialize the untimely passing of one of Meow Wolf’s early members while showcasing a selection of his photography from a vast archive.

The book also serves, in part, as a documentation of the Rufina Arts District scene and the early Meow Wolf collective, which started in 2008 as an edgy counter-movement to the traditional art scene for which Santa Fe had become known.

The October book release coincides with a small exhibit of his photography at Photo-Eye Bookstore (1300 Rufina Circle, Suite A-3, 505-988-5152 ext. 201, photoeye.com), which runs through Nov. 30.

In an introduction written by his mother, Lesle Loughridge, she says photography “helped him comprehend the world and his place in it.” She writes of his involvement with the Santa Fe arts community and how he initially came to study photography in Maine. She also notes that he’d suggested to Meow Wolf’s Vince Kadlubek that he contact George R.R. Martin to help fund a permanent space for the art collective, a move that would ultimately become a game-changer. Shortly after, Loughridge died unexpectedly in 2014 from viral pneumonia. He was 33.

Lindsey Kennedy, a photographer and former Meow Wolf employee, sifted through binders, two big tubs, and several camera bags full of Loughridge’s negatives and small prints to compile the book.

“Choosing images was really a dialogue with what he had left behind,” she said. She and John Vokoun, the book’s designer, kept a close eye on which frames Loughridge printed over and over, as well as negatives he’d circled or starred. “We tried to find evidence that David was drawn to specific images, to inform the curation whenever possible. That said, I think some of the most poignant work is the portraiture he made casually.”

Some photo grids (or contact sheets) in his binders were printed in the book, and his 2009 solo exhibit at Meow Wolf, Hall of Fools, was reproduced in its entirety, including the show flier and artist statement, in which Loughridge is open about his struggles with bipolar disorder.

In his own words — and handwriting — at the end of the book, Loughridge says, “I remember everything being more beautiful once photographed. Once something.” 

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