Catherine Chalmers is an artist and filmmaker who often raises the plants, small animals and insects that appear in her work, but since 2008 she has been filming more than a dozen colonies of leafcutter ants in Costa Rica. Chalmers has exhibited her artwork around the world and two books have been published on her work. In 2018 she created and taught a course called Art & Environmental Engagement at Stanford University. In 2018 her film ‘Leafcutters’ won Best Environmental Short at the Natourale Film Festival in Wiesbaden.
Leafcutters' is an unusual collaboration with millions of wild ants. Focusing on four supposedly unique human traits: language, ritual, war and art. The narrative aims to blur the boundaries between culture and nature. Leafcutter ant colonies have eerie parallels to human society and this is the inspiration for the video. To quote from eminent biologist E.O. Wilson, these ants are "the most complex social creatures other than humans".