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Walter Kitundu - Artist, Educator, 2008 MacArthur Fellow

Kitundu creates kinetic sculptures and sonic installations, develops public works, builds (and performs on) extraordinary musical instruments, while studying 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 prestigious MacArthur Fellowship in recognition of his work and creative potential.

His eclectic art practice includes receiving a major public art commission, creating a complex site-specific installation in a small town museum, 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 heading the design and fabrication of environments for learning at a prominent science institution. 

Kitundu has performed and been in residence at art centers and science museums internationally. He has collaborated with the renowned Kronos Quartet, bassist Meshell Ndegeocello, the electronic music duo Matmos, and the legendary Marshall Allen of Sun Ra’s Arkestra - in venues from Carnegie Hall to a high school library in Egilstaadir, Iceland.

Areas of interest: Sculpture • Sound art • Interactivity • Kinetic sculpture • Site-specificity • Public art • Instrument building and performance • Education • Improvisation • Composition for theater, film, and movement • Design of learning environments • Creative inquiry and innovative material exploration • Epistemological diversity • Responding to nature, technology and community • Ornithological observation and documentation • Photography • Woodworking and tool development

Kitundu wishes to thank the following people for their guidance, love, and support… Shirin Vossoughi, David Harrington, Doug Benidt, Alice Wingwall and Donlyn Lyndon, Laurie Lazer and Darryl Smith, Meshell N'degeocello, Tân Khánh Cao, Paulette Baker, Frances Phillips, Siobahn Ruck, Joanna Haigood, Peter Richards, Eungie Joo, Mike Petrich and Karen Wilkinson, the Beebevinos, Uncle Jesse and family, his siblings Peter and Ancina, and his late mother and father Mary Ellen Kitundu RN and Dr. Peter Ayubi Kitundu.