Steve Anker, dean of the School of Film/Video at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), announced that Laura Heit will join Paul Vester as a co-director of the school’s Experimental Animation program. Heit is part of a new wave of theater artists and filmmakers who are combining the mediums of puppetry, film and ‘toy theater.’ She creates solo cabaret acts dubbed The Matchbox Shows, in which stories unfold within match boxes and are projected live via video feed.
‘Laura Heit is a young artist who brings a fresh perspective to a wide variety of technologies and animation art forms,’ Anker comments. ‘Her art displays a distinctive personal voice and crosses genres from puppetry to a variety of animation techniques including hand-drawn, computer and stop-motion. In less than three years on the faculty, she has helped transform the stop-motion curriculum and production at CalArts into the most active program of its kind in the United States.’
Heit’s most recent film, Look for Me, was commissioned by Channel 4 Television and the Arts Council of England. She is an animation director at Slinky Pictures in London and Duck Studios in Los Angeles. Her award-winning experimental animation and puppet films have been screened extensively in the U.S. and abroad at such venues as the Int’l Film Festival Rotterdam, the Annecy Int’l Animated Film Festival, the Hong Kong Int’l Film Festival, the London Int’l Film Festival, the Ann Arbor Film Festival, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and the Guggenheim Museum of Art in New York.
The Matchbox Shows have toured the world, appearing recently at the Great Small Works 8th International Toy Theater Festival at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn and at REDCAT (Roy and Edna Disney CalArts Theater) in Los Angeles. The Walt Disney Concert Hall at the Music Center in Los Angeles commissioned Heit to create a new work, The Matchbox Shows: Circus, for the 2008 Toy Theatre Festival .
At CalArts, Heit teaches stop motion animation classes and mentors MFA candidates in the Experimental Animation Program. In the spring of this year, she co-taught the innovative multidisciplinary Guerrilla DAPP (Design, Animation, Performance, Puppetry), a rapid-action art laboratory with links to sound/music, writing, painting, dance and digital/analog technology.