Insects, Snakes And Florals Intertwine In Zoe Keller’s Graphite Illustrations

An artist named Zoe Keller has crossed over the art barriers to bring together the elements of co-existence with her stunning graphite illustrations. Not just that, she has caught the stones of life cycles, thus depicting the rise of one life from the mortal remains of the other in her ‘Scale&Bone’. Her art pieces pertain to the skinny charismatic snakes.


The web of life spreads enough to bring every creature under the law of birth and death. The lines of survival run through organisms to bind them together to balance the scale of life on Mother Earth. A little weight on one side triggers the natural forces that establish much-needed stability. Grabbing the truths of life and dependence, an artist named Zoe Keller has come up with her graphic illustrations.

Zoe possesses the creative power to analyze and interpret the threads binding the creatures together. She walks miles ahead to see living beings forming the pedestal of life on the structure of remaining bones of their dead counterparts. Not just that, she does not miss out to grab the fragility of this dependence that could spin life out of balance.

After putting down her observations, she goes ahead to depict the golden truth through the light of art. To bring her intentions and themes in the best way, she picks the charm of skinny snakes and their connections with other beings. Extending her efforts beyond the illustrations, she goes ahead fitting in the variety of snakes, butterflies and other creatures in her art pieces. The section of snakes includes copper belly water snakes, San Francisco garters, and eastern diamondback rattlers.

The Portland-based artist portrays their rise and fall with their skin shedding off their lives. Complementing the unstable nature of life, she ropes in organisms like butterflies and birds building their world on the spiky skeleton bones of the snakes in her graphic illustrations. Her fascination for snake bolsters her artistic spree in creating some magical art piece.

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Thank you so much to @antlerpdx for the opening of “Scale and Bone” last night! The virtual tour of the show is up on their page, and there will be limited opening hours each weekend this coming month if you would like to safely view the show in person (check out their page for details). . . . Over the next few weeks I will be sharing the stories behind the drawings in this series. You can check out the full show on my website (link in profile). . . . In this 34” x 43” piece “Black Pine Snake,” three species of birds that breed in Longleaf Pine forests and use snakeskin to construct their nests raise their young in the skeleton of a Threatened Black Pine Snake. The birds from top to bottom are: Carolina Wren, Great Crested Flycatcher (depicted as a nest and eggs), and Blue Grosbeak. This is one of three drawings in my show “Scale and Bone” that is centered around Longleaf Pine forest species. Longleaf Pine forests once covered 90 million acres in the Southeast, stretching from Virginia to Florida, and west into eastern Texas. Today, only three percent of the original forest remains, lost to hundreds of years of commercial logging, fire suppression, the conversion of forest to urban development and livestock grazing, and the replanting of forests with faster growing species of pine. These rich forests are dominated by their namesake Longleaf Pine, an evergreen conifer that grows 80 to 100 feet (24 to 30 meters) tall and has leaves that can grow up to 18 inches (46 centimeters) long. But there is much more to these forests than Pinus palustris; mature Longleaf Pine savannas can contain up to 40 species of plants, making them one of the most diverse plant communities on the globe. Even in their fragmented state, remaining stands of Longleaf Pine forest harbor almost 200 species of birds and hundreds of animal species. More than 30 of these species are endangered and threatened, including two species of snakes that have been designated as Threatened at the federal level: the Eastern Indigo Snake and Black Pine Snake. Although it has not yet received federal designation, the fate of the Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake [continued in comments]

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In “Where We Once Lived II”, (graphite on paper) (14 x 14 inches) one can see a copper belly water snake coiling around the skeleton of its counterpart. On the other hand, birds are forging their little world on the strong stature of a departed snake. They use the natural support that the bones offer to poise their nests. Not just that, they also use the remaining skin of the dead reptile to feed their little beings in “Black Pine Snake” (graphite on paper) (34 x 43 inches). Pooling her efforts, the artist has come up with ‘Scale & Bone’ series.

Taking on snake love, she shared, “Snakes, in particular, fascinate me as a subject matter because they elicit such a strong response in so many people”. Adding to that, she shared, “Through the use of visual narratives that are interjected with surreal and magical elements, I hope to allow the species in my drawings to speak with urgency to the forces causing their decline in this time of human-driven mass extinction”.

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My show with @antlerpdx is now less than a week away! 😱 It opens on Thursday, June 25th! Details for attending virtually and safely in person below. Here is a detail from one of two 34” x 43” drawings in the show, featuring Carolina Wrens incorporating a bit of shed Black Pine Snake skin into their nest. . If you are interested in potentially purchasing work, please be sure to sign up to receive the digital show preview via Antler’s website. (Scroll to the bottom of and enter your email into the “Preview List” box to subscribe.) . . If you are outside of Portland or are staying safe at home, you can join @antlerpdx for a virtual opening reception and gallery walk through on IGTV on Thursday the 25th at 6pm PST! You will be able to see the whole gallery space, including my work and work by @faisalwarsani in the front room. If you can’t make 6pm PST, not to fear, a recording of the walk-through will be available on the Antler Instagram page afterwards too! . . If you are in Portland, the Antler crew are offering a limited number of time slots for in-person viewings from 6m on Thursday the 25th. Groups of five or fewer, masks required and social distancing measures will be in place. (I will add a personal note that the folx running Antler gallery are precious, precious humans. Plz do not go to the gallery in person to see my work if there’s even a slight chance that you have been exposed. I’ll still be making drawings post-pandemic.) . . . I will also upload the whole series of drawings – with close-ups of all the details and narrative text explaining the species in each piece – to my website on Thursday the 25th.

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The artist beholds her art pieces as a fusion of art and ecology. According to her, “(It offers) opportunities to collaborate directly with scientists working on the ground to protect imperiled species”.

Besides making waves in the art world, she also endures in the conservation campaigns for snakes. Her active participation in that domain is bubbling to come on the fore with her bewitching serpent-focused poster that is all set to make mark on World Snake Day.