Curriculum Vitae

Performance artist, director, Lecturer

Denise Uyehara is an award-winning, interdisciplinary performance artist, writer, and playwright whose work has been presented across the United States and abroad in London, Helsinki, Vancouver and Tokyo.  Investigating what marks the body on its migration across borders of identity, she creates works that complicate cultural identity, gender, civil liberties, war and occupation. A frequent university lecturer, she also conducts workshops for various communities—LGBTQ, women, people of color, local artists and residents.  Uyehara was a founding member of the Sacred Naked Nature Girls.

M.F.A., World Arts & Cultures, University of California, Los Angeles, 2004
B.A., Comparative Literature (honors), University of California, Irvine, 1989

  • Performance and Installation (selected)
    Marquee, an installation series, Tucson, AZ, 2020.

  • Ancestral Cartographic Rituals, performance with James Luna (Luiseño/Mexican American), at Stanford University, Dept. of Art and Art History, November 29, 2017.

  • Shooting Columbus, La Pilita Cultural Center, Borderlands Theater (March-April 2017).  Map Fund, Network of Ensemble Theater’s Exchange and Travel Grants, Arizona State University.

  • Dreams and Silhouettes/Sueños y Siluetas (aka Bus Stop Dreaming, 2013), Global Justice Center.  MAP Fund and PLACE Grant from the Tucson Pima Arts Council.

  • Archipelago (February, 2012).  Highways Performance Space, Santa Monica and Dinnerware, Tucson; Museum of Contemporary Art, Tucson (May 2012).  National Performance Network Creation Fund.

  • Transitions (November, 2011), with Native American performance artist James Luna; Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions; part of Getty Centers Pacific Standard Time city-wide festival.

  • The Senkotsu (Mis)Translation Project: Bones of War, Occupation and (Mis)Translation, 2004-2009.  Exploring U.S. Military occupation in Okinawa.  Highways Performance Space, Santa Monica (’09),  Barnsdall Municipal Gallery (’06), REDCAT at Disney Hall and The Fowler Museum, UCLA (’04).

  • Sez She, 2004.  Produced by the Mark Taper Forum’s P.L.A.Y., three-week tour.  With Ann Stocking and Kate Rigg, directed by Corey Madden, Ivy Substation, Ivar and southern California colleges.

  • Big Head, 2003.  Highways Performance Space (’03); Tokyo, Dokkyo University International Performance Studies Conference; CSU Summer Arts; Tigertail Productions, Miami (’04), Berkeley Art Museum; The Kirk, Theater Row, NYC (’07), The Kitchen, Ithaca, NY, Links Hall, Chicago (’08).

  • Maps of City & Body, 1999.   Highways Performance Space, CA, Nov. 1999; Los Angeles County Museum of Art,1999; Modern Language Association, National Conference, San Francisco, Dec. 28, 1998; Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, Nov., 1998; MuuMedia Festival, Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki, Finland, October 1998

  • Hello (Sex) Kitty: Mad Asian Bitch On Wheels: UC Santa Cruz, March 2000; Theater Offensive, Boston, MA, September 1999; UC Santa Barbara, CA, May 1997; Huntington Beach Arts Center, March 1997; Asian American Theater Company, San Francisco, May1996; Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, Jan. 1996; Brown University, RI, Sept. 1995; Painted Bride, Philadelphia, Nov. 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women, Hairou, Beijing, China, Sept. 1995, ICA, London, July 1994

  • Headless Turtleneck Relatives: The Tale of Family and a Grandmother’s Suicide by Fire: Philadelphia Women’s Festival, PA, May 1995; Walker Arts Center, MN, April 1995; Firehall Theater, Women In View Festival, Vancouver, B.C., Jan. 1995; North West Asian American Theater Company, Seattle, Jan. 1995; Cleveland Performance Art Festival (invited artist), April 1994; ICA, London, Oct. 1993

  • The Sacred Naked Nature Girls (Ensemble): Randolph Street Gallery, Chicago, May – June, 1996; Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, Los Angeles, March 1996; Sushi Performance Space, San Diego, CA, March 1996; Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), London, Nov. 1995; Luna Sea Women’s Project, SF, April 1995; The Echo, Portland, Oregon, Feb. 1995; Highways, Santa Monica, CA Aug–Sept. 1995

Produced plays

  • Hiro, full-length play, Northwest Asian American Theater Company, Seattle, WA, July 1996; East West Players, Los Angeles, July-Aug., 1994

Awards, Fellowships and Funding (selected)                                                                                                                    

  • MAP Fund (2014) Shooting Columbus Project
  • Network of Ensemble Theaters Travel Grant and Exchange Grant for Shooting Columbus (2013 and 2014)
  • New Works Grant (2012), Tucson Pima Arts Council
  • MAP Fund (2011) with Jason Aragon and Pan Left Productions
  • PLACE Grant (2012), Tucson Pima Arts Council/Open Society Funding
  • National Performance Network Creation Fund (2010)
  • Arizona Commission on the Arts – Project Grant (2009)
  • O.L.A. Fellowship (Performance), City of Los Angeles, Cultural Affairs (2005)
  • Artist in Residence grant (A.I.R.), City of Los Angeles, Cultural Affairs (2005) and artist-in-community grants (1994, 199, 2000)
  • Featured Artist, National Performance Network Conference (2004)
  • Asian Cultural Council Fellowship (fieldwork Okinawa, 2001)
  • Kawahara Fellowship, Asian Studies Dept., UCLA, (fieldwork Okinawa) 2002
  • California Civil Liberties Public Education Project, State of California, 2002
  • Asian Pacific Performance Exchange (APPEX) fellow 2000
  • Poets & Writers “Writer on Site” residency, Beyond Baroque and Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1999
  • PEN West Emerging Voices Fellow, 1999
  • Brody Arts Fund, California Community Foundation in theater/performance art, 1993
  • James Irvine Foundation Fellowship through Dorland Mountain Arts Colony, 1993
  • Mark Taper Forum Mentor Playwrights Project stipend member, 1992-94
  • American Japanese National Literary Award, 1992
  • Y. Lee Playwriting Award, 1995
  • Flintridge Commissioning Grant, co-recipient as one of the Sacred Naked Nature Girls, 1995-96
  • AT&T:OnStage Productions grant for the production of the play Hiro at East West Players, 1994

Teaching Experience  (selected institutions)                                           

  • Illuminations guest residency, University of California, Irvine, January – February 2020
  • Obama Institute for Transnational American Studies, guest residency, Gutenberg University, Mainz, winter 2019
  • Mentor, National Institute for Directing and Ensemble Creation, summers 2017-2019
  • E.B. Du Bois Speaker, Humboldt University, Berlin, 2019
  • Cultures in Motion, Dance Studies Program, California State University, San Marcos, 2019
  • Claremont Colleges, California, Intercollegiate Department of Asian American Studies; Artist/Activist in Residence, Memory and the Occupied Body, February – March, 2013.
  • Arizona State University, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, Intermedia Performance, August – December, 2012.
  • University of California, Irvine (2001-2009)
    • AsianAm 115: Asian American Performance & Writing
    • StudioArt 101: Artists as Writers, 2001
  • University of California, Los Angeles, Dept. of World Arts & Cultures, WAC 5: Performance Art Workshop, Spring 2004.
  • California State University Summer Arts Program, CSU Fresno, Interdisciplinary Performance Art & Writing, Guest instructor Summer 2000 & 2003.

Teaching (museums and community)

  • Women’s Performance Workshop, YWCA, Tucson, AZ 2017
  • Museum of Contemporary Art – Los Angeles, Instructor, MOCA Education Department Apprentices program, 2004; and workshop instructor, Performance and Contemporary Visual Art, 2004.
  • Japanese American Cultural & Community Center, 18th Street Arts Center, Highways Performance Space, Electric Lodge, Rad Asian Sisters Workshop Series, an annual 10-week performing/writing workshop and presentation for Asian women and men, 1998 – 2002
  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Beyond Baroque, Poets & Writers residency, Divination Bus #217, an eight-week writing/performance course, focused on personal narrative, memory and objects, 1999
  • Highways Performance Space, Three Rooms, three-day intensive course, co-taught with performance artists Nancy Agabian and Danielle Brazell, April 1998
  • Highways Performance Space, Women’s Work, 10-week workshop, co-taught with Danielle Brazell, performance series for women of diverse cultural backgrounds, funded by the City of Santa Monica, 1997
  • Other: Okinawan oral history workshop 2004, Beyond Baroque writing and performance 2000, La Boca halfway home for women (with Sacred Naked Nature Girls), Senior Oral History Project, 1993.

Service and Affiliations

  • Working committee, Postcards to the Future: Black Women/Radical Writing, Kore Press (2020-present)
  • POG, Board, 2018-2021
  • Board Member, Grants Manager, The Arts Foundation, Tucson, 2009–2017
  • Co-curator, Studio Series, REDCAT, Disney Hall, September & May 2004
  • Board member, 18th Street Arts Center, 1998–2001

Artistic Residencies                                                                                                  

  • Resident artist, 18th Street Arts Complex, Santa Monica, CA, 1994-2004
  • Hedgebrook Women’s Writers Center, Seattle, Washington, 2000
  • Poests & Writers’ Writers on Site Resident Artist, Beyond Baroque and LACMA, 1998
  • MuuMediaFestival/Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki, Finland, October 1998
  • Djerassi Artist Colony, CA, April 1999

Publications (selected)                                                                                                                                                 

  • Uyehara, Denise. Maps of City & Body: Shedding Light on the Performances of Denise Uyehara, Kaya Press, 2004

Anthologized performances and plays

Uyehara, Denise.  Big Head, in The Methuen Drama Anthology of Testimonial Plays, ed. by Alison Forsyth, Bloomsbury, 2014.

Uyehara, Denise.  Hello (Sex) Kitty, solo performance anthologized in O Solo Homo: The New Queer Performance, eds. Holly Hughes and David Roman, Grove Press, 1998

Uyehara, Denise.  Hiro, full-length play, anthologized in Asian American Drama, ed. Brian Nelson, Applause Books, 1998

Uyehara, Denise.  Headless Turtleneck Relatives, solo performance, excerpted in Getting your Solo Act Together, by Michael Kearns, Heinemann, 1997

Uyehara, Denise.  Hiro, in Asian American Drama: 9 Plays from the Multiethnic Landscape. ed. Brian Nelson. New York: Applause, 1997

Critical Essays

Uyehara, Denise and Ettumanoor, Kannan Parameswaran.  “The Third Level, Where Kathakali and Performance Art Meet: A conversation between APPEX 2000 artists Denise Uyehara and Ettumanoor Parameswaran Kannan,” in Narrative/Performance: Cross-Cultural Encounters at APPEX,  Regents of the University of California, 2004

Uyehara, Densie.  Lost & Found: The Hidden Community of Seekers and Finders, in Mobile Zones – City Space in Globalised Culture, MuuMedia Festival. Catalogue.  Helsinki, Finland: AV-arkki, 1998

Bibliography (selected articles and essays)                                                                                    

Wong, Yutian, editor.  Contemporary Directions in Asian American Dance.  University of Wisconsin Press. 2015. 213-232.

Ontiveros, Mario.  “Working-in-Common and Cross-Cultural Art Practices.” Narrative/Performance: Cross-Cultural Encounters at APPEX.  The Regents of the University of California, 2004.

Cheng, Meiling.  “Big Head. By Denise Uyehara. With additional words by Masamori Kojima, Edina Lekovic, Shady Hakim, Lulu Emery, Tamadhur Al-Aqeel, Lillian Nakano. Highways Performance Space, Santa Monica. 21 February 2003.” Theatre Journal Vol. 55, No. 3 (October 2003): 518-519.

___.  In Other Los Angeles: Multicentric Performance Art.  University of California Press. 2004.

Hart, Hugh.  “Art of urgency; A new performance work focuses on the plight of Arab Americans.: Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, Calif.: Feb 18, 2003.  pg. E.1

—–.  “Headless Turtleneck Relatives by Denise Uyehara.” In Other Los Angeleses: Multicentric Performance Art. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002: 221-226.

Kurahashi, Yuko. “Denise Uyehara”. Asian American Playwrights: A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook.  Ed. Miles Xian Liu.  Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2002. 334-39.

Kim Lee, Ester. A History of Asian American Theater.  Cambridge, 2006. 156, 171-176.

Ikeuchi Yasuko.  “Theater/Performance and Gender: the Third Conference for Asian Women and Theatre”.  Article in Japanese.  Gendaishiso, May, 2001.

Heikkinen, Mikko-Pekka.  “Kiasman vierailevat tähdet tekevät tavarasta taidetta.”  Review.  Helsingin Sanomat.  Review in Finnish.  October 1997.

Kearns, Michael. Getting Your Solo Act Together. Heinemann: Portsmouth, NH, 1997.

Curtis, Cathy. “Familial Material: UCI Grad’s Piece Mines Roots Poetically with Subtle Body Language.” Review.  Los Angeles Times March, 8, 1997, Orange County ed., sec. F: 1-3.

Monaghan, Connie. “Performance Pick of the Week – Hello (Sex) Kitty.” LA Weekly March 24-30, 1995.  17.17, sec. Arts.

Breslauer, Jan. “Uyehara Paints an Arresting Dreamscape with ‘Relatives’.” Review. Los Angeles Times December 11, 1993, sec. F.

—–. “Performance Pick of the Week – Headless Turtleneck Relatives.” LA Weekly December 10-16, 1993, 16.2, sec. Arts.

Trabitz, Randee. “Theater Pick of the Week –  Hiro.” Review. LA Weekly July 15-21 1994, 16.33 ed., sec. Calendar.

“National Review of Live Art – Headless Turtleneck Relatives.” Variant (London) October 1993: 26.

Et Cetera
Performance videos at

Professional references upon request