Heidi Kumao



Emerging from the intersection of sculpture, theater and technology, Heidi Kumao’s video and machine artworks challenge our perception of everyday behaviors. Kumao restages private and poetic gestures within cultural constructs to express subtle acts of defiance and the resilient chord of self-preservation. Each work is an intimate performance of minimalist theater that reveals itself in an animated tableau. Projects include:

– “Timed Release,” a series of video sculptures about surviving confinement. Part shadow play, part documentary, part optical illusion, these “situated cinema” works use visual storytelling to show how hostages, prisoners, slaves, victims of relocation camps and others have transcended the absurd by devising a survival strategy that necessitates careful navigation between powerlessness and regeneration through creativity. The works in Timed Release require the viewer to perform a parallel negotiation between two opposing, coexisting visual realities.

– “Misbehaving: Media Machines Act Out,” a set of three female “performers:” electronically controlled, mechanical girls’ legs that respond to viewers’ presence through unsettling displays of behavior.

– “Wired Wear,” one-of-a-kind women’s clothing embedded with custom circuitry designed to draw attention to, and be worn during, the everyday “performances” of being a woman.

– “Cinema Machines,” hybrid projecting machines that use nineteenth century cinematographic technology to present a short filmic loop of a simple task or gesture repeated obsessively. Through the combination of photography, kinetics and sculptural assemblage, each piece explored the psychology of compulsive behavior, discipline and non-verbal communication. A solo exhibition of this work titled, “Hidden Mechanisms,” toured the U.S., Latin America and Europe.

Heidi Kumao
Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design
2000 Bonisteel Blvd.
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109


The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, MFA in Photography, 1991
University of California, Davis, BA, Art Studio and BS, Chemistry, with Honors, 1982-88
University of Wales, Aberystwyth, Chemistry Studies, 1985-86


2010Institute for Research on Women and Gender, Univ. of Michigan
2009Guggenheim Fellowship in Creative Arts: Video/Audio
2008Governor’s Award for Arts and Culture for Michigan Innovative Artist
2008American Association of University Women Educational Foundation
Post-doctoral Research Fellowship for Timed Release
2007American Association of University Women Educational Foundation
Post-doctoral Research Fellowship for Timed Release
2005Office of the Vice President for Research, University of Michigan
Faculty Research and Scholarship Award for production of Wired Wear
2004Office of the Vice President for Research, University of Michigan
Faculty Research and Scholarship Award for production of Wired Wear
2002Creative Capital Foundation, New York City
Grant in Emerging Fields/Robotics for Misbehaving:Media Machines Acting Out
2001New York Foundation for the Arts, Artist’s Fellowship, Sculpture
2000Carnegie Mellon University Studio for Creative Inquiry
Microsoft Artist-in-Residence Fellowship
1999Carnegie Mellon University Studio for Creative Inquiry
Microsoft Artist-in-Residence Fellowship
1997Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation, NYC, studio grant
1996Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation, NYC, studio grant
1996School of Art, University of Michigan, Research Fellowship in the Arts
1995School of Art, University of Michigan, Research Fellowship in the Arts
1994Artists’ Projects: The New York State Regional Initiative Grant
(funded by the Andy Warhol Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation)
1993Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation
Artist-In-Residence Grant, Washington Project for the Arts, D.C.
1992National Endowment for the Arts, Washington, D.C.
Individual Artist Fellowship, Photography


2009Visual Studies Workshop, Rochester, NY
2008Urban Institute of Contemporary Art, Grand Rapids, Michigan
2005Mott Community College Art Gallery, Flint, Michigan
2004Safety-Kleen Gallery, Elgin Community College, Elgin, Illinois
2001Three Rivers Art Gallery, Pittsburgh, PA, Int’l Sculpture Conference
1999Museu da Imagem e do Som (MIS), Saõ Paolo, Brazil (Museum of Image and Sound)
1999Museo de Arte Moderno, Buenos Aires, Argentina
1998Centro Cultural Light, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
1999Lisa Sette Gallery, Scottsdale, Arizona
1998Center for the Arts, Yerba Buena Gardens, San Francisco, CA
1998Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona, Spain
1997The Alternative Museum, New York City
1997The McKinney Avenue Contemporary, Dallas, Texas
1996Arizona State University Art Museum, Tempe, Arizona
1994Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center, Buffalo, New York
1993Washington Project for the Arts, D.C.


2013Museum of Fine Arts, Florida State University, ““Heads Shoulders Genes & Toes”
2012Museo de Arquitectura y Diseño de Buenos Aires, Argentina
arteBA (Contemporary Art Fair, Buenos Aires), Argentina
Ann Arbor Film Festival, “Fairy Door” micro-video installation,”50 Screens, 50 Years”
University of the Pacific, Reynolds Gallery, “HouseWORK”
CEPA Gallery, Buffalo, NY, 11th Biennial Art Auction
2011SIGGRAPH 2011 Conference Art Gallery, Vancouver, B.C., “Make it Home”
Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft, Louisville, KY, “Craft Meets Technology”
Ushuaia, Argentina, “Bienal de Arte Contemporaneo del Fin del Mundo”
Urban Institute of Contemporary Art, Grand Rapids, MI, “ArtPrize”
El Museo Cultural de Santa Fe, Santa Fe, NM, “Currents 2011: Int’l New Media Festival”
Work Gallery, Detroit, MI, “Perspectives on Pain”
2010Usino do Gasômetro, Porto Alegre, Brazil, “Arte.mov” Media art and Cinema festival
Espaço 104, Belo Horizonte, Brazil, “Arte.mov”
Centro Cultural Espana Buenos Aires, Argentina, “Post Post Post”
Armory Center for the Arts, Pasadena, CA, “Media Installation/Sculpture”
El Museo Cultural de Santa Fe, New Mexico, “Currents 2010,” concurrent w/Site Santa Fe
Corridor Gallery Brooklyn, NYC, “Dark Matter.”
College Art Gallery, College of New Jersey, Trenton, NJ, “Inherited Traits” (Two-person show with Nina Katchadourian)
2009Museo Universtario Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City, ”Petit Mal”
Wing Luke Asian Art Museum, Seattle, WA, ”Cultural Transcendence”
University Art Gallery, Eastern Michigan Univ., “Women’s Wear/Women’s Ware”
2008Pixilerations [v.5]: Fragments & (W)holes, Providence, RI
College Art Assn. Conference, Dallas, TX, “Social Fabrics,” Runway show
2007Galeria Vermelho, Sao Paulo, Brazil, “Noema: Galeria de Arte Digital”
Arizona State University Art Museum Tempe, AZ, “Carnaval da Oba!”
2006San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose, CA, “ZeroOne San Jose and ISEA 2006: A Global
Festival of Art on the Edge” (exhibition of “CNNplusplus”)
National Academy Museum, New York City, “The 181st Annual: An Invitational Exhibition of Contemporary American Art”
Glass Curtain Gallery, Columbia College, Chicago, “Active/Inactive: Performative Sculpture”
2005San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose, CA, “Brides of Frankenstein”
Blackwood Gallery, University of Toronto, Mississauga, “Database Imaginary”
Ljubljana, Slovenia, “Break 2.3: New Species,“ 8th Int’l Festival of Independent Artists
Exit Art, New York City, “Traffic”
Diverseworks, Houston, “Thought Crimes: The Art of Subversion”
2004Klein Gallery, Chicago, “Tart”
International Center for Photography, New York City “Only Skin Deep: Changing Visions of the American Self, “ (exhibition of online, interactive work)
2002Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation at Ace Gallery, New York City, “Artists to Artists”
The Exploratorium: Museum of Art and Perception, San Francisco, CA, “Seeing”
2000Museu del Cinema, Collection Tomas Mallol, Girona, Spain
Miller Gallery, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA, “Fusion! Artists in a Research Setting”
Peninsula Fine Arts Center, Newport News, VA,“Womentek”
Islip Art Museum, The Carriage House, Islip, NY “Site Specifics 2000”
The Newark Museum, Newark, NJ, “The Luminous Image V”


Aplauso Magazine, Porto Alegre, Brazil (in Portugues), “Os Novos Lugares da Arte”(review of arte.mov show), Luisa Kiefer, Dec.2010
ArtPapers, Art Review, “Timed Release,” Karen VanMeenen, March-April, 2010.
Rochester City Paper, Art Review, “Timed Release: Considering Hopelessness,” R. Rafferty, Dec. 16, 2009
Sculpture Magazine, Review of Heidi Kumao at the Urban Institute, Roger Green, Jan/Feb 2009
Providence Journal, “Pixilerations: What’s new in new media at FirstWorks arts festival,” Bill Van Siclen, Providence, RI, Oct.2, 2008
WRNI – Rhode Island’s NPR 102.7 FM 1290 AM, “Local Features: First Works Festival,” Audio
interview, October 3, 2008.
We-Make-Money-Not-Art.com, “Interview with Heidi Kumao,” May 2008
The Grand Rapids Press, “Art: Science adds to visual drama at UICA,” Gail Philbin, Feb. 17, 2008
The New York Times, “For a Broad Landscape, An Equally Wide Survey,” Ken Johnson, May 31, 2006
San Jose Mercury News, “Female artists ponder the meaning of life in the age of genetic
engineering” Jack Fischer, August 7, 2005
Metro Silicon Valley, “We Can Build You,” Richard von Busack, August 10, 2005
Wired, “Personal Space Invaders,” Reena Jana, July 2005
IEEE Computer Society, “Embodying Robotic Art: Cybernetic Cinematics,” G. Skogerson, 2001
The New York Times, (Long Island Edition), “Site Specifics 2000”, Helen A. Harrison, June 4, 2000


Chelsea River Art Gallery, Chelsea, MI 2012
Arte.mov Media Art Festival, Porto Alegre, Brazil, 2010
Colgate University, Hamilton, NY, 2010
Pixilerations, Providence, RI, Panel discussion with artist Gail Wight, 2008
A+D Gallery, Columbia College, Panel Discussion “Wearable Media and the Site of the Body,” 2006
FILE Symposium, (Electronic Language International Festival) São Paolo, Brazil, 2005
Arts Computation and Engineering Graduate Program at UC Irvine, 2005
Northwestern University, Dept. of Art, Theory, and Practice, 2003
International Photography Institute, National Graduate Seminar, NYU, 2002
Alfred University, Alfred, NY, 2002
Ohio State University, Wexner Center, (Photography, Art and Technology), 2001
Munson Williams Proctor Institute, Museum of Art, 2001
New School for Social Research (Film/Animation), 1999


2008Associate Professor, School of Art & Design, University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan (Assistant Professor 2003-08)
Roman J. Witt Visiting Assistant Professor,
2001-03School of Art & Design, University of Michigan,Ann Arbor, Michigan
1997-98Visiting Assistant Professor, Photography, Syracuse University,
Art Media Studies Department, Syracuse, NY
1992-95Visiting Assistant Professor, Photography, Syracuse University,
Art Media Studies Department, Syracuse, NY
1997Instructor, Rhode Island School of Design, Sculpture Department
1997Adjunct Instructor, City College of New York, Art Department
1991-92Visiting Assistant Professor, Photography
University of Maryland, Baltimore County,Department of Visual Art