ELIZABETH KENNEDAY
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This portfolio began with an invitation to exhibit in a Scientific Illustration show at a gallery in Sacramento. I chose to work in botanical illustration, depicting plants that I observed and enjoyed along the roadside during my morning walks.

 

Plants growing along the roadside, or in other areas of disturbance such as construction sites or abandoned agricultural fields, are often thought of as weeds, and are discarded accordingly. These species are fast growing with short life cycles, generally producing vast amounts of seeds. Their beauty, however, is frequently overlooked. Each plant has a particular visual poetry of its own, from root to stem to leaf; from bud to blossom; to death, and back to seed. 

 

Their value to pollinators is essential for the proper nutrients they provide, and they improve soil quality through their root structure. Medicinal use of these plants has long been recognized in Native cultures, and their use in creating natural dyes has been documented back to around 2500 BC in textile fragments found in Pakistan.

 

Despite these benefits, the plants are continually subject to removal for road development, land platting, utilities installation, the building of house forms and other related undertakings that clear or cover the land.

 

Historically, many women chose to engage scientific illustration as they were denied entry into fine art academies until just a century ago, creating much of the finest such illustration through the centuries we have available. This series seeks to reveal the beauty of these often disregarded, yet important plants to our ecosystem. Following in the tradition of botanical illustrators such as Maria Sybilla Merian and Anna Atkins, the contemporary medium of photography is used in the crafting of the images. 

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