Walter Kitundu creates kinetic sculptures and sonic installations, develops public works, builds (and performs on) extraordinary musical instruments, while researching and documenting the natural world. He is the inventor of a family of Phonoharps, multi-stringed instruments made from record players that rely on the turntable’s sensitivity to vibration. Kitundu has created hand-built record players driven by the wind and rain, fire and earthquakes, birds, light, and the force of ocean waves. In 2008 he received a MacArthur Fellowship in recognition of his work and creative potential.
His eclectic art practice has included receiving a major public art commission, creating complex analog site-specific installations, developing wildly imaginative instruments for a string quartet, composing for dance and theatrical production, teaching sculpture at the university level, engaging in fieldwork with wild birds of prey, and leading the design and fabrication of environments for learning at a prominent science institution.
• Owner and Principal Artist, Iramba Studio, Chicago IL
• Adjunct Professor, Northwestern University Department of Art Theory and Practice (sculpture)
• Senior Design Developer, The Exploratorium, San Francisco, CA.
• Lead Teacher and Educational Research Associate, The Exploratorium, SF, CA.
• Raptor Researcher with the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory
October 2008 MacArthur Fellowship - prestigious Fellowship from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation - https://www.macfound.org/fellows/803/
Dec 2014-2016 Visiting Professor and Artist Northwestern University
November 2016 Workshop Leader - The Promise of Peace Logan Center for the Arts, Chicago
November 2016 Guest Lecturer, Improvisation - School of the Art Institute of Chicago
December 2015 Panelist Building Blocks: the Architecture of Sound - Chicago Architecture Biennial.
October 2015 Invited presenter/workshop leader, Josef and Anni Albers Foundation Colloquium
April 2015 Public lecture/conversation at Columbia College with Curator Jordan Stein.
2013-2014 Lead Teacher & Educational Research Associate Exploratorium, SF
2008 Wornick Distinguished Professor of Wood Arts.
April 2017 Artist in Residence, Dept. of Art and Art History, Columbia College Chicago
Dec 2014-2015 Jean Gimbel Lane Artist Residency, Kaplan Institute, Northwestern University
October 2008 Headlands Center for the Arts, Marin County, CA
Sept–Nov 2006 Montalvo Arts Center, Saratoga, CA
Nov ‘04–Jan '05 Singapore Science Centre, Singapore
September 2004 Skriduklaustur, Fljotsdalur, Iceland
2003-2007 Exploratorium, San Francisco - Four year interdisciplinary artist residency
July 2016 La Llorona - a memorial (private commission)
January 2016 Palo Alto Art Center - “Kuelea Kama Ndege”
April 2014 Oakland Museum of California - “Vinyl: The Sound and Culture of Records”
April 2011 Walter and Elise Haas Fund, SF 2011 Recipient of the “West Wall” Commission.
March 2011 San Francisco Arts Commission - Public Art Installation at Terminal 2, SFO
2005-2008 Kronos Quartet - Instrument builder in residence. Received both Creative Work Fund & Rockefeller MAP Fund grants in 2005.
May 2007 Zaccho Dance Theatre (composition/sound design) - Departure and Arrival, SFO
August 2014 Fondazione Prada, Ca’ Corner della Regina, Venice
March 2014 Bolinas Museum, Bolinas, CA - Solo show.
November 2013 Center For New Music, San Francisco - Solo show.
December 2012 Gallery 1855, Davis, CA - Solo photography exhibition
September 2008 American Visionary Art Museum, Baltimore
April-July 2007 San Francisco Airport Museum
March 2007 Museum of Craft and Folk Art, San Francisco
May 2006 Luggage Store Gallery, San Francisco - Solo exhibition
February, 2002 Luggage Store Gallery (San Francisco) with Edgar Arcenaux and Kamau Amu Patton
December 2015 Elmhurst Art Museum (Elmhurst, IL)
November 2015 Kinosonik (Chicago, IL)
November 2015 Krannert Art Museum (Champaign, IL)
September 2015 Museum of Contemporary Art
September 2014 High Zero Festival (Baltimore)
November 2008 Artisterium (Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia) - In coordination with the Ministry of Culture, the Luggage Store Gallery in San Francisco, and Parsons the New School of Design in New York City.
May 2008 Walker Art Center Performing Arts (Minneapolis, MN)
October 2007 SF Jazz Festival (with Kronos Quartet)
March 2006 Carnegie Hall Premiere (New York, NY)
March 2007 Auckland Arts Festival (Auckland, NZ)
August 2005 Lincoln Center Outdoors (New York, NY)
August 2005 Wave Hill Gardens (New York, NY)
June 2005 Headlands Center for the Arts (Marin County, CA)
2013 Bird Knowledge: Life Lessons Learned from Birds, Vol I. - A photography based e-book available on iTunes
June/July 2015 Six week, 12,235 mile, solo motorcycle journey - From Chicago to the Arctic Ocean in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska and back