REDCAT Presents Nao Bustamante: The Wooden People

From Dec. 16 through 18, 2021, Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater (REDCAT), CalArts’ center for contemporary arts in downtown Los Angeles, proudly presents the world premiere of the latest work from internationally renowned multidisciplinary artist Nao Bustamante, The Wooden People.

The Wooden People layers ancient myths on the familiar melodrama of the telenovela, while grappling with ideas of queer existence, love, and a connection to the cosmos. The work expands on a central theme of a pre-Columbian origin story, which tells of pre-humans—“the wooden people”—who were eventually destroyed. Bustamante brings together luminaries of the Los Angeles performance art world, featuring live performances by Bustamante, Marcus Kuiland-Nazario, San Cha, Dorian Wood, Pamela Martinez, Jose Guadalupe Sanchez lll, Sophia Alana Stevenson, Heather Acs, Leigh Ann Hahn, Sybil Mosely, and Michelle Juliette Carr.

Projected episodic content will also feature artists Ron Athey, Rafa Esparza, Gabriela Ruiz, Anne Bray, Steeg, Cassils, Cristy Michel, Hermes Pittakos, Pony Lee Musgrave, Young Joon Kwak, Sebastian Hernandez, Noé Olivas, and Barry Morse.

Original score by Nick Hallett and costumes by OLIMA.

The Wooden People has been made possible by a grant from the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts. The Wooden People is a National Performance Network (NPN) Creation & Development Fund Project co-commissioned by Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater (REDCAT) in partnership with La MaMa and NPN/VAN. The Creation & Development Fund is supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts (a federal agency). For more information, visit The Wooden People was developed within CultureHub's residency program.

About the Artist

Nao Bustamante is an internationally known artist, originally from California; she now resides in Los Angeles. Bustamante’s precarious work encompasses performance art, video installation, visual art, filmmaking, and writing. The New York Times says, “She has a knack for using her body.” Bustamante has presented in galleries, museums, universities, and underground sites all around the world. She has exhibited, among other locales, at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, the New York Museum of Modern Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Sundance International Film Festival, Outfest International Film Festival, El Museo del Barrio Museum of Contemporary Art, First International Performance Biennial, Deformes in Santiago, Chile, and the Kiasma Museum of Helsinki. She was also an unlikely contestant on Bravo’s “Work of Art: The Next Great Artist.” In 2001, she received the prestigious Anonymous Was a Woman fellowship and, in 2007, was named a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow, as well as a Lambent Fellow. In 2008, she received the Chase Legacy award in Film (in conjunction with Kodak and HBO) and was the Artist in Residence of the American Studies Association in 2012. In 2013, Bustamante was awarded the (short-term) CMAS-Benson Latin American Collection Research Fellowship and also a Makers Muse Award from the Kindle Foundation. In 2014-15, Bustamante was the Queer Artist in Residence at UC Riverside and, in 2015, she was a UC MEXUS Scholar in Residence in preparation for a solo exhibit at Vincent Price Art Museum in Los Angeles. Bustamante’s video work is in the Kadist Collection.

Bustamante is an alum of the San Francisco Art Institute, New Genres program, and the Skowhegen School of Painting and Sculpture. Currently, she holds the position of Associate Professor and Vice Dean of Art at the USC Roski School of Art and Design.


Nao Bustamante: The Wooden People

Thursday, Dec. 16 at 8:30 p.m.

Friday, Dec. 17 at 8:30 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 18 at 8:30 p.m.


$25 for General admission

$20 for REDCAT members and students

$13 for CalArts students, faculty and staff

Tickets can be purchased at:

The Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater (REDCAT), CalArts' downtown center for contemporary arts, is a multidisciplinary center for innovative visual, performing and media arts founded by CalArts in the Walt Disney Concert Hall complex in downtown Los Angeles. Through performances, exhibitions, screenings and literary events, REDCAT introduces diverse audiences, students and artists to the most influential developments in the arts from around the world, and gives artists in this region the creative support they need to achieve national and international stature. REDCAT continues the tradition of the California Institute of the Arts, its parent organization, by encouraging experimentation, discovery and lively civic discourse. For current program and exhibition information, visit

California Institute of the Arts has set the pace for educating professional artists since 1970. Offering rigorous undergraduate and graduate degree programs through six schools—art, critical studies, dance, film/video, music, and theater—CalArts has championed creative excellence, critical reflection, and the development of new forms and expressions. As successive generations of faculty and alumni have helped shape the landscape of contemporary arts, the institute first envisioned by Walt Disney encompasses a vibrant, eclectic community with global reach, inviting experimentation, independent inquiry, and active collaboration and exchange among artists, artistic disciplines and cultural traditions.