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New Experimental Animation Program Co-Director At CalArts

Steve Anker, dean of the School of Film/Video at California Institute of the Arts announced that Laura Heit will join Paul Vester as a co-director of the Experimental Animation Program.

"Laura Heit is a young artist who brings a fresh perspective to a wide variety of technologies and animation art forms," said Dean Anker. "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 (London) and Duck Studios (Los Angeles). Her award-winning experimental animation and puppet films have been screened extensively in the United States and abroad including at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, Annecy International Animated Film Festival, Hong Kong International Film Festival, London International Film Festival, Ann Arbor Film Festival, and at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and Guggenheim Museum of Art in New York.

Heit is part of a new wave of theater artists and filmmakers who are combining the mediums of puppetry, film and Toy Theater. As a self-described "raconteur and sometimes pyromaniac," she creates solo cabaret acts, THE MATCHBOX SHOWS, in which stories unfold within match boxes and are projected live via video feed. A recent review praised these "extraordinarily delicate and imaginative vignettes" and noted that Heit "deftly reveals the big emotions lurking within seemingly tiny details."

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 spring 2008, she co-taught the innovative multidisciplinary Guerrilla DAPP (Design, Animation, Performance, Puppetry), a rapid action art making laboratory with links to sound/music, writing, painting, dance, and digital/analog technology.

Heit has a MA in Animation from the Royal College of Art in London and a BFA in Film from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

The nation's first art institute to offer BFAs and MFAs in both the visual and performing arts, CalArts is dedicated to training and nurturing the next generation of professional artists, fostering innovation within the broadest context possible. Emphasis is placed on new and experimental work and students are admitted solely on the basis of artistic ability. To encourage experimentation, CalArts' six schools -- Art, Critical Studies, Dance, Film/Video, Music and Theater -- are all housed under one roof in a five-story building with the equivalent of 11 acres of square footage in Valencia, California, 30 minutes north of downtown Los Angeles.

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