“I’m probably the only person to ever remove a grasshopper from Richard Burton’s crotch.”
This past Sunday, the Washington Post brought a fascinating entomologist to our attention: Steven Kutcher, bug wrangler to the stars. Getting his start in show business quite haphazardly when he was asked to help arrange a plague of locusts for the Exorcist II (1976), Kutcher saw a niche career opportunity he couldn’t turn down. Close to 200 movies, TV shows and commercials later, including the feel good hit Arachnophobia, Kutcher is a different kind of Hollywood celebrity.
As interesting as Kutcher’s career is, what really caught our eye was his passion for creating art with insects. In a field dominated by the higher brain functions of chimps, elephants, cats and parrots, Kutcher and his students are hardly the intelligentsia of the animal art world. However, due to their small size and distinctive footfalls, the works have a natural order that make them easy to appreciate.
To create a piece, Kutcher delicately applies water based paint to his students’ feet (tarsi), then releases them on the canvas. Sometimes he uses a flashlight or fan to influence the direction of movement, but the insects are otherwise not manipulated. Afterwards, Kutcher removes the remaining paint from the legs and they share cappuccino and unfiltered cigarettes.
One advantage of bug art is that the artist is almost always dead by the time the piece has sold, thereby ensuring its collectible status. Actually, Kutcher does not sell his originals although he does plan to make prints available.
Without further ado, here are some of our favorite pieces:
Looks like Kutcher got paint on a little more than the legs in this piece…
Steven Kutcher demonstrating his work on a public access show (skip to the end for the hot beetle action).