Oil on Canvas, 48" x 48", 2015
Orchid: Vanilla planifolia
Native Range: Native to Mexico; Found in Madagascar, Central America and the West Indies
Pollinator: Bees and wasps
Conservation Status: Not threatened
“Light animates some 50 translucent layers of oil color in this painting depicting Madagascar’s vanilla orchid, from which most all vanilla is harvested.
Textured implications of lost forests behind the orchid flowers and pods juxtapose the continent’s rich resources with their exploitation.
When I think of vanilla, I associate it with a heavenly scent. Vanilla is one of the most popular flavors in the world, yet few people realize that its flavor and fragrance originate from the fruit or pod (incorrectly called the bean) of an orchid. Pound for pound it is one of the most valuable spice crops in the world.
First used by the Aztecs to flavor their cocoa, vanilla was introduced to Europe in the 16th century by the Spanish (Cortez) and to Madagascar in the 19th century by the French.
Today, most of the world’s vanilla is produced in Madagascar, Réunion and the Comoro Islands, as well as in Indonesia and Mexico.”