Busy as Bees: 5 Artists Collaborate with 6-Legged Insects

Plenty of artists collaborate with each other, but these artists are doing it with 6-legged insects. Enlisting the help of bees, beetles, ants and larvae, each of these artists is turning over a large part of the creative process to insects… with very surprising results.

Hubert Duprat
Caddisfly Larvae Sculpting

Before I knew anything about caddisfly larvae, I found some while swimming in a stream in the Sierra Nevada mountains. They were so bizarre–crawling around covered in perfectly sculpted protective cocoons they make from pine needles, small stones and river sand–that I felt like Charles Darwin discovering a new species.

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French artist Hubert Duprat uses the larvae’s unusual tube making abilities to create delicate little artworks. Collecting the larvae from their natural environment, he takes them back to his studio, carefully removes their natural cocoon and places them in tanks filled with materials like gold, pearls, turquoise, rubies, diamonds and coral. In just a few weeks the larvae have made a flashy new cocoon, which they later discard for Duprat to collect. (via Colossal)

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Ren Ri
Honeycomb Sculptures

This Chinese artist is creating sculptures in collaboration with bees. He’s given up control of the final creative process, using chance and the bee’s innate industriousness to create a series of pieces based on the wax cells of the honeycomb.

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For one of his projects “Yuansu II” he encourages the bees to sculpt their hive inside transparent plastic polyhedrons and spheres. The queen bee is suspended in the center of the space, which causes the colony to build a protective home around her. Every 7 days, Ri changes the orientation of the piece using a random roll of the dice to make the decision.

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In “Yuansu I” Ren Ri used wire and wooden frames to encourage the bees to make thicker honey comb in the shape of countries, continents and even an entire world map:

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Aganetha Dyck
Honeybee Alterations

Canadian artist Aganetha Dyck not only uses antique porcelain figurines from other artists, but she also employs the help of honey bees to create her sculptures in The MMasked Ball. Over time the bees build up honeycomb over the surface of the figurines, slowly masking them behind a layer of wax.

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Steven Kutcher
Insect Painting

Steven Kutcher has an interesting job description: he’s an entomologist and insect trainer. While “paying for his house by playing with bugs,”–which included working on over 80 feature films including Arachnophobia and Spiderman–he’s been creating a lot of bug art.

He does this by putting paint on insect feet, then manipulating their path with lights and other methods as they leave footprints across the canvas. Watch the documentary below for more of the creative techniques he uses to manipulate his little helpers.

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AntHill Art

OK, “collaboration” might be too strong a word for this art. Needless to say, most of these ants are NOT excited about having molten aluminum poured down their nest, but what it reveals is incredible: the nests hidden interior. After the aluminum cools, the cast is dug up, washed off and mounted for display. See more at AntHill Art.

For more examples of anthill casting, see the work of myrmecologist Walter Tschinkel.

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See the sculpture above being made in this video:

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