Metal cicadas emerge from Joliet garage as artist enters sculptures in show

Steve Kost, metal artist: ‘I had live models to work off of’

Former Joliet resident Steve Kost of Palos Park, a member of The Art Movement in Joliet and the Romeoville Art Society, created 36-inch long, 65-pound cicada from scrap metal that he entered into the sculpture category at ScrapFest in Lansing, Michigan.

Long after the 2024 cicadas depart, one Joliet-area artist is hoping his cicada brings joy for years to come.

Former Joliet resident Steve Kost of Palos Park, a member of The Art Movement in Joliet and the Romeoville Art Society, created a 36-inch long, 65-pound cicada from scrap metal that he entered into the sculpture category at ScrapFest in Lansing, Michigan.

“I like to tell people that if you put it in your yard, the birds will flee in terror.”

—  Steve Kost, Joliet-area artist, who built a giant cicada from scrap metal

Choosing a subject to sculpt was a no-brainer for Kost.

“I knew that the cicadas were coming here in our area and I was looking forward to it,” Kost said. “I’m a big fan of cicadas. I’ve always enjoyed their song.”

Lisa Scarcelli

ScrapFest, which began as a scrap metal artwork competition, is a “full art festival that focuses on up-cycled and repurposed artwork,” according to the ScrapFest website. The festival features eco-art vendors, family activities, food, live music and The Great Scrap Run 8k run/walk and a Refashion Show.

In order to enter a piece into the small sculpture category, Kost said he had to select 250 pieces of metal from the Friedland Industries processing plant in Old Town Lansing. Kost then had just one month to create his sculpture, he said.

“I sketched out a drawing before I went to collect my materials,” Kost said. “I looked for parts I could use to build a cicada.”

Kost said the sculptures are eventually auctioned and 70% of the proceeds go to the artists, 20% goes to ScrapFest and the remaining 10% is donated to a local charity. This year, that charity is Lansing SAVE!, according to the ScrapFest website.

The cicadas on Kost’s property were so plentiful, he had no trouble fabricating his piece.

“I’ve got a 5-foot ring around every maple tree in my yard,” Kost said. “There are tons of them. As I was building this sculpture, the cicadas were flying and landing in my garage where I working. I was able to just study them as I built so I had live models to work off of.”

Kost estimated he spent 70 hours fashioning the cicada and that was on top of working a full-time job, he said. He loved the challenge of trying to capture the cicada’s movement and feels the result was fairly lifelike.

“I like to tell people that if you put it in your yard, the birds will flee in terror,” Kost said.

Former Joliet resident Steve Kost of Palos Park, a member of The Art Movement in Joliet and the Romeoville Art Society, created 36-inch long, 65-pound cicada from scrap metal that he entered into the sculpture category at ScrapFest in Lansing, Michigan.

Kost, who served in the U.S. Naval Construction Battalions from 1991 to 1995, started creating from scrap metal as a way to address his post-traumatic stress syndrome. Kost is one of 35 U.S. veteran artists featured in the Library of Congress’ “From Conflict to Creativity: Veteran Artists Showcase.”

He created a piece for the 2023 Summer of Stone & Steel Art Exhibition at the Joliet Area Historical Museum. Kost’s “Raising Steel” was a 29-inch metal sculpture of the Joliet Central High School mascot and the Jefferson Street bridge.

Kost also was one of the Old Joliet Prison Burnt District Artists who created art from salvaged scrap at the Old Joliet Prison. Kost won the “People’s Choice Award” for the 2019 Veteran’s Art Show at The EXibit Fine Art Center and Gallery.

He also participated in a special “Soldier Songs and Voices” – Presented by Phoebe Hunt” event in April at the University of St. Francis in Joliet.

Part of the fun in working with scrap metal is incorporating the rust and paint into the final design. Kost said he’s participated in ScrapFest over the last few years.

“I’ve found a really supportive community,” Kost said. “I’m happy being around other artists that have likeminded goals.”

For more information and where to find local exhibits of Kost’s work, visit stevekost.com.