Laurie Sumiye is a Japanese-American contemporary artist, animator and filmmaker known for her projects about the endangered species of Hawaiʻi. She explores relationships between place, humans and nature through her interdisciplinary practice, spanning animation, drawing, immersive media, installation, film, painting, and sculpture. She has exhibited her artwork in New York, Los Angeles, Hawai‘i and internationally, in the UK, South Africa and Brazil. Laurie has screened her award-winning films at DOC NYC, BAMcinemaFest and PS1 MoMA. She was selected for film fellowships with Sundance Institute/Women in Film, Firelight Media, Jackson Wild and UnionDocs Center for Documentary Arts. Laurie was selected as an Artist-in-Residence at Blue Mountain Center (NY) recipient of their 2021 Harriet Barlow Commons Residency Award, Digital Artist Studios (N. Ireland), Sacatar Institute (Brazil), Artfunkl (UK) and Bishop Museum (Hawai‘i). Laurie has an MFA in Integrated Media Arts from CUNY Hunter College, BA in Art & BS in Communications from Bradley University, and studied fine art at Istituto Lorenzo de’ Medici in Florence and Pratt Institute in New York. Laurie served as Assistant Professor of Film at the University of Hawai‘i-West Oahu. In 2014, Laurie returned to Hawai‘i, where she was born and raised, to work on her first feature documentary. A PARADISE LOST is a hybrid animated documentary about the Palila v. Hawai‘i, first animal that won a lawsuit to prevent its extinction.The film was awarded funding from Pacific Islanders in Communications and Firelight Media. She lives and works in Long Beach, CA and Mililani, Hawai‘i.
My creative practice is a holistic investigation of how we humans connect to nature, finding intimate dimensions of our psyche that are spiritual, experiential and individuated. I gather inspiration from investigating specificity of environments that produce unique forms. My research involves studying and documenting plants and animals, deconstructing humans’ perception of nature, and connecting biological, sociological and theological themes. By engaging in environmental issues as an artist and documentary storyteller, the study of endangered species becomes a metaphor for self-realization through science. I am also interested in small-scale human interactions with an environment; gardening, land art and habitat restoration. As an interdisciplinary conceptual artist, I express my ideas through verbal, audio-visual, animation, 2D, 3D, and organic media experimentations.