Anthill Artist Wows Internet
lf you’ve read, “When A Man Poured Molten Metal Into An Abandoned Ant Nest, What He Dug Up Showed Something Magical,” you’ve been introduced to the world of anthill art. The mysterious art and architecture of anthills proved immensely popular on YouTube. It wasn’t always that way. For years, the owner of AnthillArt.com posted videos of his creative process without fervor. That changed in 2003 and now, the overwhelmed artist cannot supply enough pieces to meet demand – a happy situation for any artist.
Anthill Art creates most of its pieces using deserted hills. Yes, even ant colonies decide to go from starter home to luxury home sometimes. In the case of the 2003 YouTube video that went viral, he used a live colony of dangerous ants, red imported fire ants (RIFA), which harm the environment and cause painful bites to humans. According to Wikipedia, exterminators eradicate RIFA nests “by the millions” in the United States using boiling water, gasoline fed fires, molten aluminum and poisons. That didn’t dissuade animal activists from attacking the artist in his comment section. Between art lovers’ awe and animal lovers’ angst, the video, “Casting a Fire Ant Colony with Molten Aluminum (Cast #043),” went super viral with more than 94 million views.
Anthill Art uses a simple process to create its intricate works. The artist measures the mound. Using a bucket with a directed pour hole, he pours molten aluminum into the nest’s entry. As the sparkly stream enters the nest, it fills the many tunnels and chambers within it. Once the liquid tops the entry hole, the molten aluminum has done its job, filling every crevice. As it hardens, the aluminum moans and seemingly cries. Steam pours forth. Finally, the mound heaves and silences.The process occurs the same regardless of the video viewed.
The artist waits while the nest cools. Using a trowel he knocks away the top layer of dirt, then each side wall, one by one. His finished metal sculpture still needs a good cleaning. He lifts it for a once over inspection. Determining its readiness for the next step, he power washes the sculpture to shiny perfection revealing an intricate work of art.
The hardened aluminum has formed an exact replica of the ornate inner workings of the ant colony. Its massive architecture represented in each outcrop and stem.
The simple process has created numerous in demand works. Some he sells on eBay. Others he offers through Facebook. You can view his artwork on display in museums. Still others he provides to educational and research facilities. The process forms a metal mold that is an exact replica of its complex structure. It makes both an aesthetic and educational piece. The sculpture made in the super viral video measures 18 inches in height and weighs 18 pounds.
Although he mostly uses deserted mounds, the RIFAs inside this one caused a ruckus. Animal lovers attacked him.
“This video and art made me first sick to my stomach and then made me so angry,” said one viewer. “How can you call yourself an artist? Is murder an art?”
Another chimed in on his Facebook page stating, “This isn’t right. Killing thousands of living creatures in the name of art. I’m not a PETA supporter but this is just inhumane.”
The artist defended his choice of RIFA mound though, pointing out that many authorities exterminate the mounds for their environmental dangers and danger to humans. A survey of his property turned up another 200 mounds, so he felt the populace of ants safe.
“I try to find abandoned nests but it doesn’t always work out. Either way, I do it sparingly and the property is still overrun with them,” he told Metro in a 2013 article.
Paul Hetherington of Buglife, an insect conservation organization said he approves of the art form, but not the killing of ants.
In the same Metro article he said, “If the nest is empty, we would support this casting as it raises awareness to the fantastic architectural prowess of ants. However, if the ants are still present it is an extremely cruel way to kill them, of which we disapprove as they are effectively boiled alive.”
The Artist Online
You can visit Anthill Art online at:
Anthill Art actualy creates other casts and molds of nature. A visit to the website shows breathtaking sculptures of mushrooms, seashells, and fish skulls. His sculptures proved so popular that the artist has a waiting list of more than 300 buyers. In the meantime, a few museums exhibit the works.
– Children’s Museum at La Habra in La Habra, CA from
March 29, 2016 to August 21, 2016
– Palais de Tokyo in Paris, France from March 24, 2016 to May 16, 2016
– Biennale Internationale Design 2015 in Saint-Étienne, France from March 12, 2015 to April 12, 2015
Anthill Art no longer adds to the potential buyers list, but does encourage fan contact. He communicates with fans through his Facebook page and Facebook Messenger. He can’t keep up with demand. It is a matter of limited supply. The artist tries to use empty nests, meaning he must wait for ants to relocate. He rarely uses occupied nests, such as the RIFA nest that caused the viral video. He does offer a bit of encouragement for interested buyers. It turns out only one of every few on the waiting list is a serious buyer. When he does create a new sculpture, he works through a few more names. In a few years, at this rate, he’ll be ready to start a new list. For now, he provides new videos and photographs on his social media that lets the public enjoy his work.