Maria Fernanda Cardoso wins 2020 NSW Visual Arts Established Fellow

The Sydney-based multimedia artist awarded $50,000 grant.

Words: Donnalyn Xu

Maria Fernanda Cardoso is the recipient of the 2020 NSW Visual Arts Established Fellow, awarded a grant valued up to $50,000. This marks the second year of partnership between Create NSW and Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA), with Denis Beaubois the previous recipient in 2019. The Fellowship aims to support and encourage the ongoing professional practice of visual artists in New South Wales.

Cardoso is known for her multimedia work with unconventional and organic materials: plastic, trash, bones, and even a live flea circus. The Colombian-born and Sydney-based artist often explores ideas around nature and its relationship with culture and science. She has had many Australian and international exhibitions showcasing her diverse practice, including sculpture, installation, performance, and photography. She is represented by Sullivan + Strumpf.

The New Dimensions: NSW Visual Arts (Established) Fellowship will enable Cardoso to work on a new series of large-scale digital portraits, documenting different species of the vibrant Australian spider, the Maratus. She will collaborate with leading photo-microscopy expert Geoff Thompson to photograph the species, and consult 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,” says Cardoso. “Australia has immense invertebrate diversity, yet it is relatively understudied and certainly little known by the general public.”

This year’s Fellowship was chosen by an industry panel, including Create NSW Visual Arts Board member Michael Dagostino, independent curator, writer and educator Emily McDaniel, and the MCA’s Megan Robson and Rachel Kent.

“Maria Fernanda is a fantastic choice for our New Dimensions Fellowship,” says Create NSW executive director Chris Keely. “I love that this opportunity will give arguably one of the world’s best-looking spiders its time in the spotlight.”

Cardoso will receive $30,000 in funding from Create NSW to focus on her self-directed professional development program, and will also receive up to $20,000 from the MCA to undertake an additional project or acquisition commission.

Image: Maria Fernanda Cardoso in studio, 2020, photograph: Daniel Boud.

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