Episode #514

Chalmers, Crickets, Kafka

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Saturday, April 03, 2004

Kurt Andersen joins artist and photographer Catherine Chalmers in her studio, with her menagerie of crickets, worms, and tree frogs.  They talk about insects as creative collaborators and as material for art. In Wisconsin, thousands of dragon flies and beetles get pinned to a wall in delightful patterns. A composer in California makes music with a chorus of bees and giant Madagascar hissing cockroaches. And we revisit some of literature’s best known bugs: like the ones in E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web and Kafka’s Metamorphosis.


Catherine Chalmers

Dave Brubeck

Jazz legend Dave Brubeck and his wife Lola are being honored this week by the University of the Pacific for their lifelong commitment to social justice. Brubeck established himself early on with the jazz mega-hit, "Take 5." He's gone on to write many other kinds of music since, including ...


Special Guest: Catherine Chalmers

Kurt Andersen and artist Catherine Chalmers talk about how music, art, and literature explore the creative possibilities of bugs.

Catherine Chalmers is a photographer and artist who spends her time with bugs and other small creatures. She takes funny, and amazing portraits of caterpillars, flies, preying mantises, and grasshoppers. Lately ...


Jennifer Angus

Jennifer Angus makes art installations in which the walls look like fancy wallpaper. But when you get close, you see that the patterns are formed by dragon flies and beetles. She pins insects to walls by the thousand, arranging them in repeating patterns. Producer Sesh Kannan talked with Angus ...



One of the best known bugs in literature is Gregor Samsa. He's the protagonist of Franz Kafka's novella Metamorphosis. Gregor wakes up one morning to discover he's turned into a giant roach. Actor Danton Stone reads Kafka's opening passages. Produced by Leital Molad.


Miya Masaoka

When Musician Miya Masaoka tours she often sits in her hotel room for hours, watching her musical collaborators interact. Her collaborators are Madagascar hissing cockroaches. She has another composition that she performs with a chorus of bees. Produced by Michael Raphael.


Charlotte's Web

In children's literature, spiders have a history as heroes. Eric Carle's Very Busy Spider and David Kirk's Miss Spider's Tea Party are both modern classics of arachnophilia. The spider who won our hearts first, 52 years ago, is Charlotte, the heroine of E.B. White's Charlotte's Web. The novelist Susan Minot ...


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