Exhibition Detail

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

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

September 15, 2020 – December 4, 2020

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.

Featured Work
Exhibition Venues

Stamps Gallery
Stamps Gallery is currently only open to University of Michigan faculty, staff, and students with valid M-Cards on Tuesdays and Fridays from 2-7 pm. 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.
201 S. Division Street, Ann Arbor MI 48104 (between Liberty St. and Washington St. in downtown Ann Arbor)