This was painted by a bug
Steven Kutcher and hissing cockroach
This was painted by a bug.

Steven Kutcher is not the kind of entomologist who wantonly sticks bugs on pins in display cases. He is the kind of entomologist who lovingly applies non-toxic paint to a bug’s feet, lets the bug walk around on a damp piece of paper or canvas to create a tiny masterpiece, and then carefully cleans the bug off when done.

bug_art
Steven Kutcher and darkling beetle

In the video below, Kutcher begins his story about how he came to make his paintings with this anecdote: “In the ’80s, I worked on a project with Steven Spielberg. And they asked me to have a fly walk through ink and leave fly footprints. I didn’t know how to do it, so I experimented, and I figured out how to make a fly walk through ink and leave fly footprints.” I really like the way this statement repeats itself. There is something very free and unconscious about it, like a found poem. Only a man who helps bugs make paintings could say something so sort of clumsily elegant. I think the fact that he creates art this way is pretty interesting, but I think he himself is arguably more interesting. Here’s his video about how and why he creates this bug art.

I like how he carefully spins the paper to make them make little circles. And how about that shot of Kutcher in the mirror, after he has tenderly showered off that little stinkbug, when he says, “I have to take good care of him, because he’s an artist, after all.” Part of you thinks, “OK, that’s a bit much.” But then you think well, nice work if you can get it.