Catherine Chalmers

Collaborating with Insects

Big Idea:
Were it not for insects, we would all be dead.  If mammals were to disappear, and leave humans as the sole representative, the planet would still hum along, differently perhaps, but the juggernaut that is us would not be in peril.  Without insects, though, the soil would rot, plants would fail to pollinate, the dead would not recycle into new life; the ecosystem would crash in a matter of months.  And how do repay the insect world for supporting us… by hating them.  Art intertwines with what matters the most to a culture.  It has always seemed odd to me that something so central to our survival has no meaningful representation in our culture. My work aims to change that.

Catherine Chalmers holds a B.S. in Engineering from Stanford University and an M.F.A. in Painting from the Royal College of Art in London.  She is an artist and filmmaker whose work explores the dynamics between nature and culture.  Often she raises the plants, small animals and insects that appear in her work but currently she filming and photographing leafcutter ants in Costa Rica.  She has exhibited her artwork around the world including MoMA P.S.1, New York; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington DC; MASSMoCA, North Adams; Kunsthalle Vienna; MOCA Taipei; among others.  Her work has appeared in a variety of publications, including the New York TimesWashington PostTime Out New YorkArtNews and Artforum.  She has been featured on PBS, CNN, NPR, and the BBC.  Two books have been published on her work: FOOD CHAIN (Aperture 2000) and AMERICAN COCKROACH (Aperture 2004).  Her video “Safari” received a Jury Award (Best Experimental Short) at SXSW Film Festival in 2008.  In 2010 Chalmers received at Guggenheim Fellowship.  Chalmers lives and works in New York City.