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Generating artistic spectacle through the intersection of cinema, sculpture, theater and technology, Heidi Kumao reframes ordinary gestures to explore their psychological underside. Her interests have manifested a wide range of hybrid art forms including: a game interface which empowers users to hack live CNN broadcasts, provocative electronic clothing, electromechanical girl’s legs that “misbehave,” experimental animations, and narrative video sculptures. Many of her works feature a minimalist theater set, a site for presenting simple actions such as writing, gardening, reading, or walking in order to call attention to these often overlooked acts. Through these animated tableaus, she demonstrates how small gestures, even the most private and poetic, can become significant acts of defiance.
Kumao has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Creative Capital Foundation, New York Foundation for the Arts, AAUW (American Assn. of University Women), the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation.
She has exhibited her work nationally and internationally including one-person exhibitions at the Museo de Arte Moderno, Buenos Aires, Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona, Arizona State University Art Museum, and Center for the Arts, Yerba Buena Gardens, San Francisco. Group exhibition venues include: ZeroOne San Jose, Museo Universtario Arte Contemporáneo in Mexico City, Wing Luke Asian Art Museum (Seattle), and the National Academy Museum in New York City. Her work has been reviewed in Artforum, ArtPapers, and Sculpture Magazine and is in a number of private and public collections including The Exploratorium, Houston Museum of Fine Arts and Light Work (Syracuse, NY).
Her film, “Swallowed Whole,” has screened in numerous festivals including: the Ann Arbor Film Festival, Black Maria Film Festival, Tricky Women International Animation Film Festival, the Atlanta Film Festival, Filmfest Dresden: International Short Film Festival and Currents New Media Festival in Santa Fe in 2015. The film received awards for “Best Experimental Film” at the Female Eye Film Festival, Humboldt International Film Festival, and the Seoul International Extreme-Short Image & Film Festival
She is a Professor at the Stamps School of Art & Design at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.