Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Ghost Orchid, Watercolor, Body Color on Vellum by Kelly Leahy Radding, US
Listing: Endangered, Preservation of Native Flora of Florida Act
The Plant's Story
The ghost orchid of the Everglades seems hidden from sight when not in flower. It has no leaves and uses its roots to collect both water and sunlight. Its white flowers appear to float in the air, hence its nickname. The ghost orchid’s range includes humid areas of Florida and Cuba. Found in secluded groves of deep swamps, it is pollinated by the giant sphinx moth. This dependence on a specific pollinator and the pollinator’s dependence on a specific orchid in turn, leads to increased susceptibility to habitat alterations. The deep swamps of the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge shelter the gohost orchid. Management of the Refuge is focused on providing suitable panther habitat, and that means restoration of its functional ecosystem and its native plant communities. Also located in Florida, the American Orchid Society is the world’s largest organization devoted to the huge family of orchids, estimated to contain more than 30,000 species.
The Artist’s Story: Kelly Leahy Radding
I wanted to portray this plant as otherworldly, or ‘ghostly’. I started it with a graphite under-drawing from which I could then develop the roots growing out of the gray of the graphite into full watercolor. The white body color, layered with watercolor for the colored portions, had the necessary opacity to give the illusion of the flower appearing out of the calfskin vellum background. I wanted the flower to have an ethereal quality; to appear as if it materialized from the background like a ‘ghost’.
More of the plant’s story and the artist’s story can be found in the exhibit catalog, available at the exhibition venues or online from the ASBA.