Artist Spotlight: M.F. Cardamone

New to the gallery this month is mixed media artist M.F. Cardamone, who seamlessly blends 18th and 19th century botanical illustrations with pop culture images and text to create visual narratives. Cardamone first started making contemporary art in 1980; however, it was during her time at the Barnes Arboretum School Program in 2003 when she began to experiment with botanical mixed media art. Through the use of collage, M.F. Cardamone creates playful interpretations of nature as an art form. 

Robyn Pocker: Please tell us your first love of flowers / botany? 

M.F. Cardamone: For as long as I can remember I have always had an affinity for nature.  

RP: Did you always have a 'green thumb’?  

MFC: My Thumb became greener as a result of enrolling and graduating from in 2005,   a 3 year horticultural program at the Barnes Arboretum School  in Merion, PA

RP:  What makes a plant or flower unique?  

MFC: All plants like people are unique; they all have a  history and a story to tell.

RP:  How do you select a certain species to further develop in to artwork aspects of the plants from their medicinal to spiritual properties? 

MFC: I began this body of work by researching the  native plants on my property , whichis on the outskirts of Philadelphia  This particular series was called “Plants of Pennsylvania. I explore many different aspects of plants from the medicinal to the ecological. It’s whatever interests me at that moment

RP: Tell us a little more about your artistic process?

MFC: A digital file is then created and printed . I then go back and add handwork such as calligraphy, stamps and gouache  to embellish the work.   

RP: I collect all of my  plant specimens- just like a botanist would collect for future study . You were quoted as referring to your art a visual puzzle — do you have a process for identifying certain graphical elements or a theme beforehand?  

MFC: I refer to the work as “Visual Puzzles” because I like the concept of the work evoking a sense of mystery and wonder because that’s the way I feel about the natural world

RP: We love the concept of contemporary botanical prints — how did you first explore the idea of using digital innovation and other mixed media elements combined with your prints?  

MFC: The aim of  scientific Botanical Illustrators throughout history    has  always been to portray plants as accurately and realistically    as possible to help further our understanding of them . Digital imaging is  the most state of the art process . The detail it’s able to record is  really magical .