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Dooley's Week scavenger hunt features custom Catlanta art

It's no secret that Dooley's Week is one of the most anticipated events of the year at Emory University. Students wake up Monday morning to a Dooley-decked campus, setting the stage for a week chock-full of concerts, performances and appearances honoring the Lord of Misrule.

This year, Emory is also celebrating 100 years in Atlanta, and to mark the milestone in conjunction with Dooley's Week, the university is partnering with local Atlanta street artist Catlanta.

This Dooley's Week, Emory students will have the rare chance to capture one of Catlanta's highly sought after creations right here on campus. The master of wooden felines has created some stylish Dooley-themed cats that Emory's social media team will hide across campus all week. There will be at least five cats hidden each day on Emory's Atlanta campus and one cat per day at Oxford College.

For hints follow Emory's Instagram and Twitter accounts throughout Dooley's Week, where pictures will be posted of where the cats are hidden. Remember to take a picture tagging @EmoryUniversity with the #DooleyCat hashtag if you are one of the lucky few who find one. If you're searching Oxford College's campus, keep an eye on their Instagram and Twitter accounts, and tag @OxfordCollege.

The story behind Catlanta

Now who is Catlanta? He is often shrouded in mystery just like Emory's beloved Dooley. Many of his followers have never seen the man behind the cats.

His Instagram account highlights ornately decorated kittens, hidden around Atlanta as a social media scavenger hunt. This is how it usually works: Catlanta posts a picture of his latest piece of art on his Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, with a clue as to where it is hidden. Then the scavenger hunt ensues: In mere minutes, the kitten is snatched up by the follower who gets to it first. If you look at any of his "kitten drops" on Instagram, the comments are rife with heart-broken followers who were just seconds too late to claim a coveted kitty.

It all started during Snowmageddon in January 2011 here in Atlanta. Rory Hawkins (the man behind Catlanta) and his friends were inspired to spray paint street art amongst the ice, and the first thing Hawkins came up with was a drawing of his pet cat Sterling, which he had doodled for years. His mom used to wear an old sweatshirt with the word "Catlanta" scrawled on it, and he painted that name above the spray-painted cat.

The moniker stuck, even though Hawkins didn't intend for it to. People started sharing the feline street art on social media, and a phenomenon was born. A few weeks later, Catlanta dropped his first batch of kittens for the finding.

"I always wanted this project to be accessible for all residents of the city, so I quickly abandoned the spray paint and began leaving tiny cat magnets around town for people to find and take home," he says.

Hawkins calls his art process very "DIY" compared to other artists.  Not one for computers, he hand-draws every cat design, and eventually screen prints it onto a slab of wood which he cuts into his signature cat shape. He uses a cinder block to weigh down the screen print when painting the wood.

His careful craftsmanship adds to the fervor surrounding his art. As for a studio, he cuts the cats in his East Atlanta laundry room, and paints them in his living room (in front of a wall covered in Harrison Ford pictures).

Finding a cat has become a quest for Catlanta's fans. There are plenty of Atlantans who have dedicated days on end to finding a cat, but to no avail.

"After hearing from a guy who spent five hours looking for one of those first few pieces, I knew this idea of sharing art scavenger hunt-style could take off in the city with people willing to hunt," the artist says. "It still brings a smile to my face to see folks chasing down a piece and being part of the experience."

Be sure to keep a close eye for clues on Emory's and Oxford's social media accounts throughout the week, and maybe you will be able to adopt your very own #DooleyCat.

Dooley's Week events

Here's a schedule of the events for Dooley's Week, March 23-28:

Monday, March 23

  • Grad Island Hop, 12-2 p.m., Nursing Courtyard
  • Dooluau sponsored by College Council, 5:30-7 p.m., Asbury Circle 
Tuesday, March 24
  • Taste of Emory, 5:30-7p.m., McDonough Field
Wednesday, March 25
  • "Dooley on Deck" Wonderful Wednesday sponsored by RHA, 12:30-2:30 p.m., Asbury Circle 
Thursday, March 26
  • Happy Thinks & Tropical Drinks, 12:30-2:30 p.m., Asbury Circle
  • Comedian John Mulaney, doors open at 7 p.m., Glenn Memorial Auditorium  
Friday, March 27
  • Dooley's Frolics featuring J. Cole, doors open at 7 p.m., McDonough Field
Saturday, March 28
  • Cardboard Boat Regatta, 12-3 p.m., SAAC
  • Dooley's Beach Ball featuring The Knocks, doors open at 8 p.m., McDonough Field

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