The internationally acclaimed artist will use the $50,000 Fellowship to create digital portraits of an Australian spider.

By Justine Nguyen on March 20, 2020

Maria Fernanda Cardoso has been announced as the recipient of the 2019/20 New Dimensions: NSW Visual Arts (Established) Fellowship, presented by Create NSW and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia. Cardoso will receive $30,000 in funding from Create NSW to focus on a self-directed professional development program and will also undertake an additional project or acquisition commission from the MCA up to the value of $20,000.

Maria Fernanda Cardosi. Photo © Daniel Boud

Internationally acclaimed for using unconventional and organic materials to explore ideas of nature and its relationships with culture and science, the Colombian-born, long-time Sydney resident has exhibited widely across Australia and overseas, including at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, and the Centro de arte Reina Sofia in Madrid. Her practice includes sculpture, installation, performance and photography. Cardoso will use the Fellowship to create a new series of large-scale digital portraits documenting various species of the Maratus, an Australian spider. She will work in collaboration with leading photo-microscopy expert Geoff Thompson to photograph up to 20 of the 80 species, with the pair to work in consultation with museum curators and scientists.

“I am extremely grateful to Create NSW and the MCA for this opportunity and am excited to create new work around these extraordinary tiny creatures. Australia has immense invertebrate diversity, yet it is relatively understudied and certainly little known by the general public,” said Cardoso.

This year’s Fellowship was awarded by an industry panel comprised of Create NSW Visual Arts Board Member and Director and CEO of Campbelltown Arts Centre Michael Dagostino; curator, writer and educator Emily McDaniel; and the MCA’s Megan Robson and Rachel Kent.

Maria Fernanda Cardosi. Photo © Daniel Boud

Create NSW Executive Director Chris Keely said, “Maria Fernanda is a fantastic choice for our New Dimensions Fellowship and I love that this opportunity will give arguably one of the world’s best looking spiders its time in the spotlight. I look forward to seeing her development through this project, and the works that it leads to.”

MCA Director Elizabeth Ann Macgregor OBE added, “We are delighted that this award is going to Maria Fernanda who has an international as well as national reputation for her thought-provoking work about the natural environment and our relationship to it. She is highly deserving of this fellowship and we look forward to working with her to deliver the outcome of the partnership through presentation or acquisition of the new work.”

Now in its second year, the New Dimensions: NSW Visual Arts (Established) Fellowship supports the ongoing professional practice of visual artists in New South Wales with a grant valued up to $50,000. The previous recipient was Denis Beaubois.

Nguyen, Justine. “Maria Fernanda Cardoso Is the 2020 NSW Visual Arts Fellow.” Limelight. Sydney, March 2020.

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