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 -


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