|THE ORCHID ALLIANCE PROJECT
Prelude to a Fascinating Pivotal Plant
Orchids have been an object of desire for thousands of years, with a rich cultural history that spans the globe. Some of the
earliest references to orchids in art and literature can be traced back at least 2,500 years, with the earliest written records
dating from the time of Confucius around 500 BC. Today, orchids represent one of the largest, most diverse flowering plant
families, with an estimated 25,000 naturally occurring species on every continent with the exception of Antarctica. With an
additional 130,000 man-made hybrids, Patricia views orchids as artifacts of modern society. The cultivation of orchids has
become an international multibillion-dollar a year industry. Today’s “orchid mania” is testament to the collective passion the
orchid continues to inspire worldwide.
From the perspective of art and cultural evolution, the human fascination with orchids has been compelling, laced with
passion, mystery and intrigue. We are beginning to appreciate the vast multicultural implications of orchids within different
societies. Patricia believes exploring ancient attitudes about orchids and their function, through the lens of art and culture, may
shed some light on the present power orchids have on us - a power she believes that can transform our future in terms of
From the perspective of science and biological evolution, Patricia considers orchids to be a flagship plant family that draws
the attention and support of the general public, while in the process gets things accomplished for the broader ecosystem in
which they occur. Her orchid paintings explore and inform the viewer of the complex interdependencies and balances inherent
in the orchid’s environment.
The orchid’s habitat is as varied as its shapes, sizes and colors. From the shoreline to elevations greater than 13,000 feet
above sea level, orchids have evolved into virtually every conceivable habitat, including tropic and subtropical regions. Some
orchids grow on sand dunes, some species thrive on bare rock. Others live high atop trees, or hidden underground, and there
are even some in semi-aquatic environments. The most outstanding characteristics of orchids are their diversity and
adaptability through survival strategies developed over the past 80 million years.
Nonetheless, orchids depend on other plants, animals and insects for pollination and survival. They display a delicately
balanced interdependence on the organisms that coexist within their habitats. Most orchids have evolved to attract one single
specific pollinator to one specific species of orchid. These complex interdependencies make orchids extremely susceptible to
the effects of global warming, deforestation (whether man-made or naturally occurring), or even the global spread of
pesticides. The loss of an insect or bird pollinator, alone, may spell doom for the orchid that depends on it for pollination. The
dramatic effects of climate change on orchid populations are becoming even more evident as wet habitats dry up and dry
habitats become more uniformly moist. Habitat change and forest destruction aren’t new issues; however, their alarming rate
of acceleration has made adaptation extremely difficult for the orchid, its pollinators and the ecosystems that support them.
Patricia considers the orchid to be an environmental indicator or the “the canary in the mine”.
About the Project
As a professional artist, Patricia Laspino’s forty-year career has been inspired by the beauty and
diversity of the natural world and its power to influence. She has chosen the floral, specifically the
orchid, as a primary focus of interest. By using orchids as a metaphor in her paintings, she
explores cultural and biological evolution, biodiversity and environmental stewardship. The
Orchid Alliance Project-Bridging Art & Science is her ambitious endeavor which has global
significance. Weaving together two disciplines through scientific inquiry and collaboration, her art
provides fresh perspectives on the interconnectedness of humanity and the natural world.
|THE ORCHID ALLIANCE PROJECT
|Sponsorship Benefits - The Value of Partnering
So, what are some of the strategic benefits of participating in the Orchid Alliance Project-Bridging Art and Science? As
mentioned earlier, “collaborative members are invited to contribute to the Project based on their visionary expertise in their
respective fields, inspiring business and social objectives, and their excellence in leadership.” These attributes set the stage
for synergistic partnerships where creative thinking makes it possible to reach shared goals.
Supporting Orchid Alliance Project exhibitions and educational programs demonstrates environmental and social
responsibility evidenced by investing in individuals, communities, and the world at large. The result creates a positive
influence on potential consumers, creates new partnerships and generates new revenues. The Project exhibitions or events
are international, national or regional. They are museum quality presentations in design geared to develop seeds that
germinate in the mind. Displays are designed to be exciting and aesthetically pleasing, with the supporting information
designed to provide media outlets with interesting content. Public educational media representation is ideal for the Project’s
message. All this provides corporate sponsors and participating collaborative members with valuable positive publicity.
Participants in the project, no matter the type of business entity, will gain a myriad of exclusive advertising and promotional
possibilities. Corporate sponsorship provides their marketers with unique branding opportunities to position themselves in
the market place and shape consumer attitudes. Orchid Alliance Project branding can enhance an entity’s image and
visibility; differentiate each from its competitors; and help develop closer relationships with the public.
In addition to new advertising and promotional opportunities, the Project will provide many benefits in the realm of community
relations. Alignment with the Project’s global commitment to environmental sustainability provides a unique way to enhance
corporate image, while promoting good citizenship and higher civic engagement. For entities involved in international trade,
an investment in the Project means supporting a global conversation about preserving the earth’s fragile ecosystems,
through an art project that transcends language, national borders and cultural barriers. The Orchid Alliance Project not only
bridges art and science, but also helps build a bridge between cultures creating connections regardless of race, gender,
religion or age.
“The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious – the fundamental emotion which stands at the
cradle of true art and true science.” Albert Einstein
The Global Platform - Possibilities through Engagement
So, how does the Orchid Alliance Project-Bridging Art and Science use Patricia Laspino’s orchid art as a vehicle for
awareness? The answer is through its innovative and thought-provoking exhibitions where viewer participation and
engagement are key. The orchid paintings themselves are visually stimulating; intertwined with their beauty is the
intellectually provocative science component which is of equal importance, creating a powerful statement.
The narrative information accompanying each work of art is an important facet of the exhibition experience; this aspect is
pivotal in creating deep human connections that shift values and inspire stewardship. These two layers of communication
are presented together to the viewer through exciting exhibition displays intended to be mentally and physically interactive.
The project embraces and employs new technologies and multimedia to encourage a more personal interface with
individual viewers through the use of tablets, mobile devises and smart technology. Software and digital media in the art
exhibitions are used as innovative tools, encouraging the viewer to access an enriched, layered, educational experience of
paintings, orchids, stories and their respective relevance.
In addition to curating education into the exhibits, Patricia believes interaction with the public is critical to a reciprocal
collaborative effort. Thus, the events develop and deliver interesting artist lectures and gallery talks for all ages whenever
possible. Patricia’s exhibitions include transformative paintings, as well as collateral educational materials, for example,
exhibition catalogs, books, and materials for teachers, when applicable. A selection of high quality ancillary products can be
designed and produced depending on available sponsorship and the focus and scope of the exhibition.
The Art of Awareness – Creating Connections
The idea is to use art, and specifically orchid art, as the vehicle for awareness. Thus, the watchword of the Orchid Alliance
Project-Bridging Art & Science is “Awareness”. Awareness and education form the threads, carefully interwoven
throughout the Project, to increase awareness and appreciation for the beauty and diversity of the natural world. This is
accomplished by carefully blending the historical, biological and cultural significance of the orchid through the vehicle of art.
Today, more institutions and individuals recognize the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration as a means to uncover
innovative thinking, and the fields of art and science are at an important crossroad. The timing and approach of the project
serves a dual purpose - as a launch-pad for ideas and a catalyst for change. The federally trademarked Orchid Alliance
Project is strategically designed to elicit global awareness and support for project exhibitions and events from art museums
and galleries, botanical and other educational institutions, curators and corporate sponsors. Equally integral to the Project’s
success are artists, collectors, art critics, the news media and the everyday flower enthusiast.
The Orchid Alliance Project-Bridging Art & Science is a collaborative effort of synergistic entities, uniting participants
sharing a common sensibility for global stewardship. Participants have specific goals within their own business domains,
but all share the purpose of making a valuable impact on the world. Collaborative members are invited to contribute to the
Project based on their visionary expertise in their respected fields, their inspiring business and social objectives, and their
excellence in leadership.
To elaborate on how founding members Patricia and Andrew Laspino have been creatively collaborating with scientists,
scholars, artists and organizations, let’s consider several of the Project’s participants. For over five years, the American
Orchid Society, a leader in orchid education, conservation and research, has been a part of, and has endorsed and
supported, the Orchid Alliance Project. Dr. Ron McHatton, the organization’s Chief Operating Officer and Director of
Education, acts not only as Patricia’s advisor in her selection of orchid subjects, but also lends educational expertise as
subjects are developed by the artist. He also supports educational materials designed to supplement gallery and museum
Thomas Mirenda, orchid collection specialist at the Smithsonian Institution, also collaborates on the Project. He helps
maintain nearly 8,000 orchids in the Smithsonian’s collection, which is quite diverse and extensive. Mr. Mirenda continues to
play a key role as advisor, not only in the areas of orchid biology, but also in sharing information about the historical and
cultural significance of the orchid in diverse societies. He is an Orchid Alliance Project member and has agreed to
contribute to a book, now in progress, to the Project. Other staff members within the vast disciplines of the Smithsonian that
have provided valuable insights are the Museum of Natural History, the American Art Museum and the Freer and Sackler
Galleries of Art. In addition to private art gallery exhibitions, Patricia has participated collaboratively in exhibitions with the
Smithsonian Institution, the United States Botanic Garden, Longwood Gardens, and the New York Botanic Garden.
Institutions instrumental to the artist’s research are Bowling Green State University, Yale University and Wesleyan University,
The Hahnemühle Fine Art Company, Germany’s oldest artist paper mill (in existence over 420 years), and Gary Lichtenstein
Editions (GLE), collaborated with Patricia to create an environmentally conscious statement through a work of art. The
resulting commemorative edition celebrates Patricia’s orchid painting, “Illuminated Vandas at Longwood”, and its connection
to the DuPont estate, Longwood Gardens, in Kennett Square, PA. Hahnemühle contributed the premium archival fine art
paper, made of renewable bamboo fibers, and Lichtenstein contributed his printing of the fine art edition at his studio in
Ridgefield, CT. Both Hahnemühle and Lichtenstein are collaborative members of the Orchid Alliance Project.
Artist and Process - Layering Medium with Message
Nature has always been a primary inspiration for Patricia, who considers herself an “artist/scientist”. Her academic studies
in Art and Biology broadened her interest in nature’s geometries, patterns and intriguing designs. Following her
postgraduate work with the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators at the Smithsonian Institution, she went on to develop her
own fine art style.
Reconciling her scientific and artistic character traits, her art process marries both the expressive and the detail-oriented
aspects of her personality. Intense research and collaboration with scientists are both integral to Patricia’s studio art
practice. Bridging art with science, she thoughtfully studies each orchid species in the context of biology, history and culture
and then creates visual narrative stories through her paintings. Her artistic message is as much about layering information
as it is about layering paint!
Patricia’s painting process involves 60-80 transparent layers of oil color over a sculptured groundwork of fossilized botanical
impressions. Her paintings begin as sculptures, where she presses botanical materials into a special medium; some of
these imprints are actual orchid flowers. On this foundation, she begins stacking layers of transparent oil paint glaze,
creating abstract fields of color. These backgrounds are complete abstract paintings in and of themselves, their interwoven
organic shapes appearing like ghostly fossils. She creates her own distinctive naturalistic vocabulary of reoccurring shapes,
designs, textures and colors. Her painted surfaces capture the intensity of light and are animated from within to achieve
vibrancy, luminosity and drama.
Upon these botanic tapestries she paints the diverse architecture of the orchid, which Patricia considers an icon of evolution.
Although her bold, provocative paintings exhibit a strong fidelity to nature, the artist’s intention is to capture the spirit or
essence of the flower, selectively emphasizing the evolutionary marvels of each species. Her large-scale canvases entice
the viewer to journey into the orchid’s exotic environment - to experience the world from a bug’s eye view. She often
determines physical painting sizes based on the exhibition’s venue, series theme and artistic message.
Patricia’s oeuvre explores the fundamental attractive shapes and designs of nature where symmetry, color, and pattern all
play important roles on nature’s grand stage of attraction. Human beings, flowers and animals inhabit forms that are both
aesthetic and functional. Are these forms hard-wired for beauty? She seeks to provide a fresh perspective by finding new
connections between humans, their perceptions of beauty and the natural world, furthering her assertion that in science
there is art and in art, there is science. Her mission is to create art and events, in which the fusion of art and science
reveals previously unnoticed beauty, creating a sense of wonder, instilling a purpose of discovery and appreciation, inspiring
action to further the long term stewardship of the natural world.