Kim Yasuda is a visual artist and professor of spatial studies in the Art Department at University of California, Santa Barbara. She has served as department chair and is currently co-director of the multi-campus research unit, the U.C. Institute for Research in the Arts (UCIRA). The UCIRA serves as a major platform for presenting, discussing and advocating for the arts-centered research across the 10-campus U.C. system. Its expanded mission supports active and embedded scholarship models that work transitively through multi-agency partnerships and geographic settings outside the conventional teaching, studio, gallery, museum or performance contexts.
Yasuda's past gallery installations and public projects investigate links between identity and place. She has commissioned projects throughout California, including a subway station and bus shelter facility for the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Los Angeles and permanent commemorative installations for the City of San Jose and Hollywood. She has exhibited her work internationally at institutions including the Art Gallery of Ontario, Canada; Camerawork, London; the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, The Whitney Museum of American Art, Connecticut and MIT List Visual Arts Center, Boston. She is the recipient of visual arts fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, US/Japan Foundation, Howard Foundation, Art Matters, Joan Mitchell Foundation and Anonymous Was a Woman Foundation.
In the past 5 years, Yasuda has activated university teaching with her public arts research and creative administration, developing initiatives that forge partnerships between academic environs and the local/regional communities in which they are situated. As a recent body of research, she experiments with the potential intersections between institutional knowledge production and a creative practice. Yasuda works collaboratively with her students on spatial demonstration projects, including the 2006 student-homeowner public art collaboration with residents of a 52-unit, affordable farm-worker housing complex in Oxnard, California and the 2007-8 recycling and repurposing of used shipping containers into mobile art studios to serve as satellite sustainability labs for campus research to take place within a publicly-accessible realm.
Through these experiments in 'class-as-artwork' and 'exhibition-as-school', Yasuda established the Friday Academy, a temporary instructional environment within the university that maintains its own academic calendar and experimental curricula to conduct year-round, off-site and project-based learning within an itinerant classroom setting. Straying from traditional studio arts training models, the Friday Academy encourages flexible programming in response to immediate social and environmental concerns, drawing from an interdisciplinary array of students, academics and community scholars to work in situated, collective partnership with one another. Projects of the Friday Academy include the storefront renovation of a local bakery and a public art program for the central business corridor of the student community of Isla Vista. Through affiliations with civic and non-profit agencies, Yasuda designs opportunities for student engagement in a practice of 'civic aesthetics'. These experimental mergers facilitate what Yasuda identifies as "a critical need to retool existing institutional learning structures toward the practice of an 'anticipatory' education…one that prepares the 21st century scholar with the capacity and creative skill set to effectively engage in their unforeseen and uncertain futures".