Laurie Sumiye is an environmental artist and storyteller whose work about Hawaiian endangered species explores the interconnectedness of place, humans and nature. Her cross-disciplinary practice spans video, animation, drawing, painting, installation and immersive media. She has exhibited her art in New York, Los Angeles, Hawai‘i and internationally, in the UK, South Africa and Brazil, and screened her award-winning films at DOCNYC, BAMcinemaFest and PS1MoMA. She was selected for documentary film fellowships with Sundance Institute, Firelight Media & UnionDocs Center for Documentary Arts. Laurie was awarded residencies with Digital Artist Studios (Belfast, N.Ireland), Sacatar Institute (Bahia, Brazil), Artfunkl (Manchester, UK) and BoxJelly/Fishcake (Honolulu). Laurie has an MFA in Integrated Media Arts from CUNY Hunter College, BA in Art & BS in Communications from Bradley University, and studied art at Istituto Lorenzo de’ Medici in Florence and Pratt Institute in New York. She formerly worked as an art director and interactive designer for clients such as Disney, Best Buy and MercyCorps for over 15 years in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York. Laurie returned to Hawaiʻi, where she was born and raised, to work on her first feature documentary. A PARADISE LOST is a hybrid animated documentary about the first animal who sued to save kind from extinction. The project was awarded research and production funding from Pacific Islanders in Communications and Firelight Media, and selected for Good Pitch Local Hawaiʻi. Laurie is an Assistant Professor of Creative Media at the University of Hawaiʻi-West Oʻahu. She lives and works in Mililani, Hawai‘i.


I am a Hawaii-based environmental artist and filmmaker who explores human and nature modalities and intersections, focusing on the native species of Hawaiʻi. My work exists in various media; drawing, painting, animation, video, sculpture, and installation. My interest is a holistic investigation of people and the environment, finding inner dimensions of nature that are experiential and intimate. I make art and tell stories to cultivate appreciation of the natural world that is at risk of being lost, and attenuate a narrowness of locality which produces unique, rare forms.

My work is shaped by engaging in deep inquiry as social scientist and documentarian; interviewing scientists and conservationists, documenting rare and endangered species, and capturing stories associated with their preservation and protection. I research topics related to human interactions with the environment; sustainable development, ecology, climate change, and agriculture.

Multidisciplinarity is a critical aspect of my practice, as I articulate my ideas through verbal, visual and conceptual experiments.  My research involves studying and recording nature, writing about philosophical and conceptual frameworks in deconstructing the human perception of nature, and interconnecting biological, technological, and sociological themes.

My current body of work is a deep dive into the science and spirituality of Native Hawaiian species. Hawaii’s endemic flora and fauna are highly endangered, beautiful, and fragile. Hawaiian and scientific names of plants and animals identify subspecies within the places they are found; islets, valleys and gulches. These micro-ecosystems of diversity, of the biological and linguistic kinds, possesses a distinct native Hawaiian spiritual energy and character that manifests in physical and metaphysical forms.

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