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Real and Imagined: Fabric Works and Video Animations by Heidi Kumao

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September 15 – December 4, 2020


Hybrid Event

Stamps Gallery
201 South Division Street
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104


Open to the public
Free of charge

Stamps Gallery is pleased to present Real and Imag­ined: Fab­ric Works and Video Ani­ma­tions, a solo exhi­bi­tion of nar­ra­tive fab­ric works and exper­i­men­tal ani­ma­tions by Stamps Pro­fes­sor Heidi Kumao.

Using fab­ric cutouts and machine and hand stitch­ing on indus­trial felt, Kumao gives phys­i­cal form to the intan­gi­ble dynam­ics under­ly­ing ordi­nary con­ver­sa­tions and rela­tion­ships from a fem­i­nist per­spec­tive. Inten­tion­ally min­i­mal, each image dis­tills an inter­ac­tion, trau­matic inci­dent, or power imbal­ance into an acces­si­ble visual nar­ra­tive. Rec­og­niz­able objects such as chairs, roots, lad­ders, or spot­lights set the stage for the story to unfold. Events are cap­tured mid­stream, sus­pended in time like a felt film still.

The exhi­bi­tion is inspired, in part, by the courage, tes­ti­mony, and expe­ri­ences of women (like Chris­tine Blasey Ford) who pub­licly report assault, harass­ment, or mis­con­duct. The #MeToo move­ment gave voice to thou­sands of women to tell their per­sonal sto­ries, but also exposed a hos­tile back­lash meant to silence them. The title, Real and Imag­ined,” is a delib­er­ate con­tra­dic­tion; if one is true, the other must not be. In prac­tice, how­ever, both terms are used to ref­er­ence a woman’s tes­ti­mony and deter­mine how it is pub­licly inter­preted. Her account is accepted as truth­ful by many and simul­ta­ne­ously dis­missed as imag­i­nary by the court of pub­lic opin­ion: her mem­ory is wrong,” she imag­ined it.”

The works in Real and Imag­ined: Fab­ric Works and Video Ani­ma­tions” make dif­fi­cult con­ver­sa­tions and rela­tion­ships tan­gi­ble by strip­ping them down to their essentials.

Word­less phys­i­cal ges­tures high­light the psy­cho­log­i­cal and emo­tional forces at play behind even the small­est of interactions.


Heidi Kumao has cre­ated award-win­ning exper­i­men­tal films, video instal­la­tions, cin­ema machines, elec­tronic cloth­ing, and kinetic sculp­tures. She has exhib­ited her work in solo and group exhi­bi­tions nation­ally and inter­na­tion­ally includ­ing shows at Art Sci­ence Museum Sin­ga­pore, Cen­tre de Cul­tura Con­tem­porà­nia de Barcelona, Fun­dació Joan Miró (Barcelona), and Museu da Imagem e do Som (São Paulo). She has received fel­low­ships from the Cre­ative Cap­i­tal Foun­da­tion, the Guggen­heim Foun­da­tion, and the New York Foun­da­tion for the Arts. She is a pro­fes­sor at the Stamps School of Art & Design at the Uni­ver­sity of Michigan.

Related Events


Stamps Gallery

201 South Division Street
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104

  • Sunday: Closed
  • Monday: Closed
  • Tuesday: 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
  • Wednesday: Closed
  • Thursday: Closed
  • Friday: 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
  • Saturday: 11:00 am – 4:00 pm

Fol­low­ing U-M health and safety guidelines, Stamps Gallery is currently only open to University of Michigan faculty, staff, and students with valid M-Cards on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 11am to 4pm. All visitors must have a valid M-Card to enter Stamps Gallery. We are unable to welcome the general public to this space at this time.

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