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Desert Skins
Desert Skins_Dave and Zebra-tailed Lizard.jpeg

Desert Skins is a series of watercolor portraits of Arizonans morphed with their favorite local reptile. This work is about connecting to people in the community and honoring the beautiful reptiles of Arizona. 


I love reptiles. They are beautiful, colorful and fun to watch. Their skin is wonderfully adapted to our desert climate. Watching a lizard sun itself on a rock in July heat, makes me yearn for tougher skin and cooler blood. Although these creatures are a special part of the desert ecosystem, many people fear them. Research shows that this fear is hardwired into our brains as a way of avoiding potentially poisonous animals. This fear also makes reptiles misunderstood and targets for cruelty. 


My goal is to counter this fear and highlight their beauty. By asking people to pick a favorite reptile, I encourage them to take a closer look at Arizona reptiles and look for one that appeals to them. A portrait is an intimate endeavor. By looking deeply at a person's face and an animal’s skin, I feel a tenderness toward them and an appreciation for their being a part of my world. The work represents my fantasy of belonging to this desert landscape in an essential, physical manner with tougher skin to protect from the harsh elements. 


-Laura Milkins

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