Special/Signature Issues » 30th Anniversary Issue

The famous butt-printing artist reveals the philosophy behind his work.

Dec. 27, 2006

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Stephen Murmer holds one of his creations. - SCOTT ELMQUIST

Stephen Murmer, aka Stan Murmur, an art teacher at Monacan High School, stands to lose his job after students discover his side career making art with his buttocks. (The Virginia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union took up his case, and a large painting of the Virginia state flag — done, naturally, with butt prints — still hangs in the organization's Richmond office. Sic semper school officials!) In December 2006, Murmer told us why he did it:

"Yves Klein had this idea — he was a conceptual artist — that we have this metaphysical energy, and the energy, when you use the body as a stamp, would be left behind, and this was a recording of that energy being present. Now, most energy you have centers around the area that I paint with, and then comes out of the top of the head. And of course, all that stuff was scoffed at in the '50s, then made a resurgence. And now we've got thermal energy. All this stuff comes back. Just like trying to turn metals into precious metals."

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