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Josh Keyes - Ghost


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12"x9" // acrylic on birch panel // 2014

Josh Keyes created this painting for the third incarnation of Antler Gallery's show "Unnatural Histories" in 2014.


Ghosts are a rare species of albino deer that inhabit the sleeping woods and
surrounding perimeter. The exterior surface of their antlers consists of a soft fibrous cell structure that is highly absorbent and collects moisture from the air. A wide variety of butterfly and moth species appear to be attracted to the moisture trapped in the vascular velvet surface of the antlers. Two species that are both commonly found in the sleeping woods and appear to have a symbiotic relationship with the ghost deer are the Necro Butterfly and the White Angel. They were recently discovered during a research expedition of the sleeping woods. The Necro Butterfly are found in small groups fluttering near or close by an animal that is either sick, old, or injured. The White Angels or more commonly called Mist as they often appear in great numbers surrounding an animal’s body like a cloud of mist. New evidence suggests that the White Angel moth may act as a catalyst or aid in the transformation of the animal’s body which slowly becomes enshrouded by moss and
vegetation and eventually reclaimed by the forest. There is continued speculation and debate surrounding the origin, and part these butterfly and moth species play in the ecosystem of the forest. Because of their unique behavior and common occurrence near dying animals, both butterfly and moth have come to be associated with and symbolize death and transformation.