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The Art of Saving Oaks

Articles: The Art of Saving Oaks

Shreve oak (Quercus parvula var. shrevei). Author’s lllustration

Whenever I tell someone that I am a botanical artist, the typical reaction is, “you’re a what?” To most people, botanical art is a relic of pre-photographic times—an elegant and esoteric hobby. In reality, however, a botanical illustration is still often the best way of communicating information about plants in an aesthetically appealing manner. Its goal is still relevant: to inform and delight!

Several years ago, botanical artist MaryAnn Nardo conceived the idea of using her art to educate the public about sudden oak death, a disease that’s sweeping through the California coastal ranges and decimating populations of oak and tanoak (a close relative of the oaks). She wanted to create a new context for botanical art, using it as a tool to educate the public about a current environmental issue, a use she hopes to see applied to more issues in the future.

As the idea grew, MaryAnn recruited other artists, and members of the scientific community. Carol Haggerty joined her as her co-partner, providing invaluable experience in fundraising, mult...


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