Heather Dunaway Smith

Forest Roots Run Deep

I spent my early years in the woods of Poetry, Texas (yes, that’s a real place) with my hippyish parents, two older brothers, a couple of dozen chickens, three geese, two cats, and a dog. My parents moved out to the woods with hopes of being as self-sufficient as possible.  We had a huge garden, a double-decker chicken coup, a bunny hutch, a composter nicknamed “J.T. Rotter”, an art studio (for my father) and a brown-on-beige mobile home. The latter came with wall-to-wall wood paneling and a built-in owl painting (whose eyes followed you around the room.) I still have an affinity for fake wood patterns and vaguely unsettling images.

Those years in the woods were truly formative for me. I loved nothing more than exploring the surrounding forest, ponds, and underbrush. I was (am) curious about absolutely everything and was mesmerized by the beautiful forms I found in nature. Everything from seed pods to snakeskin fascinated me. Not much has changed since then. I can still be found wandering around the woods (now in the Pacific Northwest), picking up strangely shaped stones and staring deeply into the faces of flowers.


Storytelling + Art + Technology

After pursuing theater during my teen and early college years, I decided to change my major from Playwriting to Interactive Multimedia so that I could create dialogs between art and audience, rather than one-sided monologues. For me, the point of art is human connection and involving the audience creates opportunities for deeper and more meaningful experiences.

My career has encompassed a diverse scale of clients (from Fortune 100 companies to individuals) and work environments (from global advertising agencies to startups). Over the years, I’ve been lucky enough to create a wide range of interesting interactive experiences:  mobile games (using responsive art and audio), global cross-media campaigns (including virtual worlds), interactive museum exhibits, dynamic visuals for AI-generated experiences, and, most recently, XR artwork.

Some better known organizations that I’ve worked with include Northwestern University’s Intelligent Information LaboratoryThe Art Institute of ChicagoAllstateHarley DavidsonNortonMini and Highlights for Children. In the spring of 2020, I was selected to be an AR artist-in-resident at Adobe. To learn more about my web/app-based interactive work, check out Clockworkbird.


When I’m not making art, I’m typically making music or foraging for mushrooms in Oregon’s old growth forests.