Skip to main content
Northwestern University

Kaplan Institute Welcomes New Artist-in-Residence

MacArthur Fellow Walter Kitundu uses art to celebrate world's splendor

Over the last seven years, the Kaplan Institute for the Humanities’ Artist-in-Residence program has brought more than 15 internationally acclaimed artists to the Northwestern University campus for quarter-length residencies promoting cutting-edge creative work.

Walter Jesse Kitundu, a MacArthur Fellow, is the latest in that illustrious line.

Inspired by his childhood in Tanzania, Kitundu often ties his projects to the world’s natural splendor. His art ranges from wildlife photography to hand-built turntables that interact with natural elements, such as wind, rain, fire and ocean waves.

“Growing up in a world without television, I was often at play in the world and engaged with my imagination,” Kitundu says. “As an artist, those experiences drive me.”

Kitundu, whose work has been displayed in shows and museums around the globe, moved to the Chicago area last December alongside his wife, Shirin Vossoughi, a new faculty member at the University’s School of Education and Social Policy. Soon after, he connected with the Kaplan Institute and earned its 2015 fellowship. 

Fresh to Chicago, a city with a rich and spirited musical tradition as well as its share of natural wonder, Kitundu slated January “for listening” and February “for building” during his winter quarter residency. He will participate in colloquia with Kaplan Institute fellows and affiliates while also teaching an art course titled “Exploring Sound and Natural Phenomena.”

“Since I’ve been fortunate to explore so much myself, I’m in a better position than ever to support curiosity in the students I encounter twice each week, so that’s been an invigorating piece of this adventure,” he says.

At the completion of Kitundu’s residency in March, the Kaplan Institute has tentatively slated an open house in which Kitundu and his students will share their individual works.

“Having this residency is such a beautiful way to land in a new city and build a foundation here that will foster my continued growth as an artist,” Kitundu says.

Kitundu’s residency is co-sponsored by the Departments of Art Theory & Practice and Radio, TV & Film. Kitundu is teaching a cross-listed course for these departments this winter, titled "Exploring Sound and Natural Phenomena. The campus community is invited to visit the artist at his studio, which is located in the old Roycemore building, 640 Lincoln St. Evanston, IL.

Back to top