Walter Kitundu: 2008 Wornick Distinguished Professor of Wood Arts

MacArthur Grant Recipient

Walter Kitundu was notified on the way to class early this semester that he had been selected for a MacArthur Grant. This grant awards individuals $500,000 with no strings attached and is based on their unique artistic, cultural, and scientific pursuits. CCA, and in particular the Furniture Program, is incredibly honored and lucky to have Walter in our department.

About Walter Kitundu

Raised in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Walter is a visual artist who was introduced to music through the turntable. He focused his imagination on discovering the potential of the record player as a medium for sound and artistic expression. This resulted in hand-built turntables powered by the wind and rain, fire, earthquakes, birds, light, and the force of ocean waves.

Walther believes the physical properties of a record are a natural link to the exploration and interpretation of the world around us. He invented a new instrument family called phonoharps. These beautifully crafted multistringed instruments are made from record players and rely on the turntable’s sensitivity to vibration.

Walter has performed and been in residence at art centers and science museums internationally including the Singapore Arts Centre; the Gunnar Gunnarsson Institute, Iceland; the Walker Art Center; and the Museum of Craft and Folk Art. He has performed with the renowned Kronos Quartet, bassist Meshell Ndegeocello, the electronic music duo Matmos, instrument builder and visionary Douglas Ewart, the legendary Marshall Allen, kotoist and composer Miya Masaoka, Japanese sound artist Akio Suzuki, and the hip-hop band Crown City Rockers.

Additionally, he composes for dance, theater, and film and teaches multidisciplinary workshops on sound, imagination, and instrument building.

Walter has been affiliated with the Exploratorium Museum of Science, Art, and Human Perception since 2003, where he is currently a multimedia artist.

While teaching within the Furniture Program, Walter will challenge the students to use the elements to power a device of their own design. The class will spend time gathering research in the natural Bay Area environment as well as conducting experiments.

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Read the press release.