Beautiful, Realistic Paintings Showcase Animals Carrying Entire Ecosystems On Their Backs

At first glance we thought these images were impressive renderings of animals carrying entire ecosystems on their backs. Upon closer investigation, these hyperrealistic paintings reveal themselves, making the series even more impressive.

Created by Portland-based artist Lisa Ericson, we see turtles with entire families of birds and butterflies on them. We see pelicans carrying whole jungles worth of critters, from ocelots to lemurs to snakes and foxes.


Entitled Border Crossing, the paintings merge the worlds of animals and human politics, reflecting on the policies of child separation, borders, and immigration.  See more on MyModernMet:

“I made Into the Dark in response to the horror of the policy of separating children from their parents at the U.S. border,” Ericson reveals. “Often when I work, I get lost in the technical aspects of painting—the color, seeing the image take shape brushstroke by brushstroke—but this subject matter was a little raw for me and I felt emotional about it all the way through.”


Erikson’s work merges themes of animal migration in the wild with human migration and the refugee crisis. – My Modern Met