|THE ORCHID ALLIANCE PROJECT
As a professional artist, my thirty-five year career has been inspired by the beauty and diversity of the natural world and its
power to influence art and culture. I use the orchid as a symbol or metaphor in my paintings to explore cultural and
biological evolution, biodiversity and environmental stewardship. I see orchids as a flagship plant family, an ambassador to
tell stories about the interconnectedness of humanity and the natural world.
When I was asked by the United States Botanic Garden at the Capitol to design two original oil paintings interpreting the
2014 “Orchid Symphony” exhibition theme of orchids, classical music, water and fountains, I was honored and elated to
again collaborate with such a prestigious institution. From my original 48” x 60” oil paintings, I then produced two special
edition 60 “x 75” fine art monoprints on canvas to hang in the US Botanic Garden entry foyer for the show.
In my view, the aesthetics of art and music are seamlessly intertwined; both deal with the appreciation of beauty through
compositions that affect our emotions and intellect. By interweaving elements of color, texture, rhythm and harmony, both
disciplines engage the senses to incite our passions. Orchids exude grace, elegance and perfection of form as do great
classical music and art compositions.
When discussing orchid subjects for the paintings, the U.S. Botanic Garden staff and I explored varieties that were visually
exciting and unique, historically important, complimentary to each other and had inspiring stories to tell. Cattleya’s have
been some of the most popular orchids since the early 20th century, once even thought of as the “Queen of Flowers”. Thus,
we reached a consensus that the two beautiful Cattleya hybrids we chose would both introduce the exhibition and embody
the spirit and theme of the show.
UNITED STATES BOTANIC GARDEN
UNITED STATES BOTANIC GARDEN CONSERVATORY
February 22 – April 27, 2014
Patricia Laspino Artist Lecture: April 10, 2014 – 6:30PM - 8PM
|THE ORCHID ALLIANCE PROJECT
|the United States Botanic Garden for "Orchid Symphony"
|Click the United States Botanic Garden link below to
learn more about "Orchid Symphony" and
"Programs and Events".
The first orchid we chose and everyone’s favorite, Cattleya ‘Michelle
Obama’, was the elegant Cattleya hybrid named for Michelle Obama.
Mrs. Obama is the 14th consecutive First Lady to have a Cattleya named
after her. An extraordinarily stunning flower, I couldn’t help but find
parallels to its namesake. She is an inspiration to me as an artist and
as a woman.
I designed the painting, "The Michelle Obama Orchid”, not only to portray
the power, beauty and majesty of the orchid, but to acknowledge and
pay tribute to the dynamic character, confidence, commitment and
compelling pose symbolizes strength and personal power.
In the words of the Michelle Obama:
“The arts are not just a nice thing to have or to do if there is free time or if
one can afford it. Rather, paintings and poetry, music and fashion,
design and dialogue, they all define who we are as a people and
provide an account of our history for the next generation.”
The second Cattleya hybrid chosen, Brassolaeliacattleya ‘Ports of Paradise’, is a playfully colorful compliment showing
the best of multi-generic hybridizing. One parent in this orchid’s background, Brassavola digbyana, is recognized by its
large, fringed lip, reminiscent of a frilly skirt. In my painting, "Ports of Paradise Orchid", I portray the orchid as a portrait
accentuating its most striking attribute, the dancing fringed lip and its capacity for attraction. Both “The Michelle Obama
Orchid” and the “Ports of Paradise Orchid” represent superior hybrid orchids that emphasize the concept of the beauty
and diversity of all orchids. The creation of these hybrid varieties is an example of the human quest for beauty.
|The Michelle Obama Orchid
Orchid Symphony Suite I
|Ports of Paradise Orchid
Orchid Symphony Suite II
To emphasize the classical music theme of the U.S. Botanic Garden’s
“Orchid Symphony”, I poised these stunning orchids against a
background of swirling aqua blue. My painting process involves 60-80
layers of oil color using undulating energetic brushstrokes which overlay
textural botanical impressions, giving the feeling of flowing water. The
botanicals appear like notes dancing through the compositions as if
animated by a lively musical score. In my signature style, I use layers of
paint to capture light, animating the surfaces to achieve vibrancy,
luminosity and drama.
My life’s work, the “Orchid Alliance Project-Bridging Art & Science”, is an
important endeavor with global significance. Using orchids as a
metaphor, the collaborative project explores connections between art and
science, uniting participants who share a common sensibility for global
The watchword of the Orchid Alliance Project is “Awareness”. Seeking to
increase awareness and appreciation for the beauty and diversity of the
natural world, the project links the historical, biological and cultural
significance of the orchid through the vehicle of art.
|Click the Architect of the Capitol
link below to read the "Orchid
Lucy Camarda is a self-made entrepreneur and
successful businesswoman with over 36 years of
experience as a skilled seamstress. She contributed to
the creation of the fine art prints by masterfully stitching
the top and bottom pockets on each print, allowing them
to hang with poles like tapestries in the foyer of the US
Botanic Garden. Lucy's creativity as "seamstress
extraordinaire" and her commitment to excellence and
service is an inspiration and a treasure to the community.
Click Here for More Photos
Founded in 1989, Chadwick & Son Orchids has been Richmond, VA's premier orchid supplier for more than 20 years.
Art Chadwick, Jr., President, and his father, Art Sr., began the tradition of presenting a specially grown hybrid orchid to
the First Lady in 1995 with a presentation to Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Chadwick & Son Orchids donated a sizable collection, 27 specimens, of their renowned First Lady orchids, now
known as the Presidential Collection, for permanent display at the United States Botanic Garden. The USBG is one of
the oldest botanic gardens in North America. It was formally founded in 1850 with a mission to emphasize the value
of plants to humanity. The Chadwick donated collection includes plants named after former first ladies Lady Bird
Johnson, Barbara Bush, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Laura Bush as well as those recently presented to First Lady
Art Chadwick and the US Botanic Garden were instrumental in supplying invaluable reference information and
photographs to Patricia Laspino to create the original oil paintings, "The Michelle Obama Orchid" and "Port of
Read More about the Cattleya Michelle Obama orchid at Chadwick & Son Orchids, Inc.
Our Creative Collaborators on the Orchid Syphony Project for the U.S. Botanic Carden