Sunday, October 18, 2009

Nonhuman Art

Hey Guys,

I wanted to share some videos and pictures of art by nonhuman artists. I volunteer at the Gorilla Foundation (known for their sign-language speaking gorilla named Koko) where I feed gorillas. Currently, there are two gorillas, Koko and Ndume, but there was also a third gorilla named Michael. Working with apes, especially with art, is something that I hope to do in the future as part of my career (I won’t go into specifics about my career plans, because it’s kind of long and boring).

Anyway, here is a video of Koko (you may need to blast the volume in order to hear it). I think it shows how gorillas can also be frustrated artists. In gorilla sign-language, “toilet” is a great insult. Other gorilla insults (which are not in the video) include “nut,” “devil,” and “bird” –words you don’t want the gorillas to sign behind your back.

I couldn't figure out how to get the video inserted, so here's a link showing a video of Michael. He knew sign-language, but was especially known for his art.

Here are pictures of some of my favorite gorilla paintings. The gorillas titled the pieces themselves. Yes, the gorillas also have annual art auctions and they have had art shows across the U.S.

Michael, Me, Myself, Good.

Michael, Pepper.
Michael, Anger.

Michael, Love.

Koko, Love.

If you would like to learn more information about the Gorilla Foundation, you can visit their website at:


  1. This is so trippy and so cool.I'm going to probably spend the morning looking at gorilla videos now, haha.

  2. Really nice. Michael and Koko know their colors. It's interesting how Michael associates red with anger and Koko associates pink with love like many humans do (except Michael's "Love" painting is a very different interpretation).

  3. I have always liked Koko the Gorilla upon learning about her years ago in elementary school. I like Anger by Michael because of the colors and layers. Thanks for sharing....

  4. By the way, did the gorillas name their own work?

  5. Yes, the gorillas title their pieces themselves. Some of their titles are a little funny because the gorillas have made up some of their own words or their own understanding of things. For instance, one painting depicting a bouquet of flowers was titled "Stink Gorilla More." The gorillas sign "stink" to mean "flowers."