Malia Araki Burkhart

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HomeArtistsMalia Araki Burkhart

“Ms. Malia” is a multidisciplinary performance artist, visual artist, songwriter, director, and teaching artist. She is also a Somatic Massage therapist, urban farmer, and parent. Malia loves creating art with students of all ages, kids and adults. She teaches students how to make and perform with hand-puppets, masks, giant puppets, set-design and props, and more. Malia grew her skills in puppetry, masks, and stilt-walking through the Twin Cities puppetry community: including groups such as In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theater, Barebones Productions, and Monkeybear’s Harmolodic Workshop. “Puppetry is a perfect way to bring together so many ways of making art,” says Malia. “…we sculpt, we paint, we write stories, we make funny voices, we play music, and we get to show our work in a performance. It’s so fun to see what comes to life.”

Program Offerings



In residencies, students are given freedom to explore their own artistic process and make their own decisions. In a one-week residency, there are two general phases: puppet making and puppet movement, culminating in a short presentation or mini-parade. Two-week residencies enable students to explore more complex puppet-making techniques, develop their story-writing skills, create musical accompaniment, work on set design, and present a fabulous puppet show!

Examples of puppetry residencies include: Giant Puppets ~ teams make larger-than-life characters, Rod Puppets or Hand Puppets ~ either fit over the hand like a glove, or are operated by sticks held from below, Cranky Shows ~ A “cranky-show”  is a scrolling painting that is turned by two cranks—kind of like a “low-tech TV”, Masks ~ Students create a paper-mâché mask using found objects or by sculpting a clay base and Shadow Puppets ~ Puppets are cut from thick paper with thin rods to control their dance across a back-lit screen.

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COMPAS is an arts education nonprofit that puts creativity in the hands of Minnesotans, regardless of their age, background, or skills. Based in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul metro area, COMPAS teaching artists deliver creative experiences and arts programming across Minnesota.

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This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.