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Allure of Deadly Snakes in Serpentine, June 15

PHILADELPHIA, April 25, 2013

King Cobra by Mark Laita
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The contrasting qualities of snakes—their allure and danger, passivity and aggression—have captivated the imagination for thousands of years. A new exhibit this summer at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University captures these extremes—and extreme beauty—of some of the world’s deadliest snakes.

Fine-arts photographer Mark Laita spent more than a year in Central America photographing rare and dangerous pythons, pit vipers, coral snakes and other serpents in the care of collectors, breeders, zoos and venom laboratories. A dozen of his stunning photographs, so vivid they look like three-dimensional sculptures, are featured in Serpentine, on view in the Art of Science Gallery June 15 through Sept. 15. The exhibit is free with regular museum admission.

“Every time I photograph a snake, I am fascinated by its color and texture, of course, but what interests me most are the sensual forms its movement creates,” wrote the Los-Angeles-based photographer in the prologue of his newly published book called Serpentine. “It’s as if these creatures are—to their core—so inherently beautiful that there is nothing they can do, no position they can take, that fails to be anything but mesmerizing.”

Laita photographed each snake on a black background which emphasizes the vivid colors, lively textures and sinuous contours. Each image reveals an uncanny sensual beauty heightened by the serpent’s dangerous nature. He took the photographs right after each snake had shed its skin, so the colors would be the most vibrant.

Laita’s work may be familiar to some people. In 2007 the U.S. Postal Service published a series of floral stamps featuring his work. His clean, colorful style has earned him international recognition, and his work has been exhibited across the U.S. and Europe.

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