María Fernanda Cardoso is a Colombian Australian artist, sculptor and illustrator. Her contemporary art references many types of ready-made material, including plastic, trash, plants, dried and living animals, bones and styrofoam.
As a child, Maria Fernanda Cardoso took long nature walks with her father. Carrying a magnifying glass, Cardoso would look closely at plants and insects, studying their intricacies. These walks sparked her curiosity about the natural world and trained her powers of observation. Throughout her career, she has continued to explore nature and its links to culture and science. Her early projects make use of preserved animals such as lizards, starfish, frogs, and snakes arranged in intricate, abstract compositions reminiscent of pre-Colombian forms. Other installations include flowers and stones turned into vertical gardens and funerary wreaths.
The Cardoso Flea Circus (1994-2000) was a six-year series of performances and installations in which Cardoso trained fleas to perform tasks and surprising feats of strength. She performed the Cardoso Flea Circus internationally, at venues including the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Sydney Opera House, Centre Georges Pompidou, Arts Festival Atlanta, The Fabric Workshop and Museum, and the San Francisco Exploratorium. It was recently acquired by the Tate Modern.
Other notable works include: "Cementerio—Vertical Garden" This is a series of unique installations made of artificial flowers placed as if growing horizontally from the wall over funerary stones outlined in pencil. "Dancing Frogs" is an assembly of dried dead frogs connected by a circular wire. The frogs appear to be spinning in circles as if in a ritual dance. The piece explicitly references the representations and indigenous symbols of the Muisca, as the circle and the frogs were part of this Pre-Hispanic symbolism.