Artist and and Mazza Museum curator Dan Chudzinski with his Bigfoot sculpture (photo by Spencer Cunningham)
Ohio Life

Artist Dan Chudzinski Takes Bigfoot to the Moon

The Mazza Museum curator discusses the allure of hyper-realistic art and sending an image of one of his works to the lunar surface. 

The moon has seen small steps and giant leaps, but it’s soon to be visited by Bigfoot. Findlay-based artist Dan Chudzinski’s roughly 300-pound Bigfoot head sculpture, “Evasive Species,” was chosen to be part of Lunar Codex, a cultural time capsule that is taking art, music and more from over 30,000 artists around the globe to the moon. An image of Chudzinski’s massive work will be laser etched onto a thin sheet of nickel that is set to ride aboard a SpaceX rocket in 2024.

The moon mission is just the latest trip for Chudzinski’s hyper-realistic beast made of silicone and taxidermy hair, which he created for an exhibition at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Massachusetts.

“My thought was, what if I were to make the most realistic Bigfoot and put that in front of people in a place that they’re not expecting,” says Chudzinski, who is the curator at the University of Findlay’s Mazza Museum.

“Evasive Species” is currently on display at the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library & Museums in Fremont through Sept. 4. We caught up with Chudzinski to talk Bigfoot, going to the moon and more.

You started working on “Evasive Species” right as lockdowns were implemented. What was it like to work on the project at that time?
I had studied Michelangelo to the point where I lived in Italy for a while and learned to carve marble in the same village as him. When he was working on projects like the Sistine Chapel, the Black Plague was sweeping through Europe, killing a third of the population and Rome was being sacked by rival armies. My thought was, if he could do that back then, and he didn’t even have artificial lighting, what’s my excuse?

There have been many depictions of Bigfoot. Why did you want to create a hyper-realistic one?
When you see Bigfoot, or when you see something come up on the news about Bigfoot, it’s almost always a letdown. It’s always a blurry, out-of-focus picture, or it’s a hoax. … Hyper-realistic art is a powerful illusion. To walk into a gallery and see even a human figure that looks so lifelike that you’re waiting for it to breathe or blink, that will always capture people’s fascination.

What does it feel like to know something you created will be on the moon? 
It’s incredibly flattering. It is surreal. I still don’t think, even after it happens, I’ll fully be able to wrap my mind around it. One of the first things my mind jumped to was imagining this little alien scuttling around the moon and finding this thing, opening that up and leaving with a very warped perception of what’s happening on Earth, and I’m okay with that.

To see more of Dan Chudzinski’s artwork, follow @danchudzinskistudio on Instagram.