Heidi Rugg is an interdisciplinary artist with her feet firmly planted in the worlds of both performance and visual arts. She is the founder of Barefoot Puppet Theatre, a touring company that performs in-person and virtually for youth and family audiences. Born in Hawaii, Rugg studied Hula when most mainland girls were twirling in tutus. She now calls Richmond, Virginia home and tours throughout the country (and beyond!) presenting to schools, libraries, theatres, museums, and venues including The Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta, Puppet Showplace Theater in Boston, and The Smithsonian Discovery Theatre.
Rugg is known for tackling complicated themes and breaking them down into delectable, bite-sized morsels; she infuses her work with rich language, vibrant visuals, a touch of whimsy, and a joyful exuberance for the creative process. She specializes in wet-felting applications in puppetry and rod puppet mechanisms. She has a passion for sustainable practices in art-making that promote healthy people and a healthy planet.
A teaching artist for over 20 years, Rugg leads master class workshops in puppet building and manipulation; she has extensive expertise in prototyping and creative processes. Rugg works with educational programs to implement arts integration and is on the teaching artists roster for the Virginia Commission for the Arts. She continues to further her own studies with renown master artists around the world.
Rugg’s work has been supported by grants from The Henson Foundation, Puppeteers of America, the Virginia Commission for the Arts, and the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Arts. In 2005, Heidi Rugg received an UNIMA-Citation of Excellence, the highest American award for puppetry.
Rugg lives in Richmond’s Northside with her husband and erstwhile performance partner, Sam, their two daughters, a leopard gecko named Pepper, and a beautiful rescue pup named Naia. She is likely drinking tea or working in her studio right now. Maybe both?