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For Owl Scouts, photographer Todd Baxter paints a dark portrait of young love, following two children on a tragic adventure into the woods. Without an adult to accompany them, the girl is swept into a tornado like The Wizard Of Oz’s Dorothy; without his beloved companion, the boy is killed and gutted, left by some unknown beast with his entrails flowing beneath his ribs. For Baxter, this cinematic narrative speaks to the struggle of human life.

Set in a spooky, magical wood, Baxter’s images resemble the pages of an illustrated fairy tale more than they do most photographs. In this heartfelt parable, the unknown terrors of childhood inhabit the dark forest. Like the biblical Adam and Eve, the children move from blind innocence into illuminated experience, using only their flashlight to light the way. Fallen, both literally (into a creek) and figuratively, they seem alone and painfully small. Discovering his own mortality in this wild landscape, the boy remains faithful to his dear friend, waiting patiently until death joins them together once more.

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