Portia Munson’s latest show at P.P.O.W uses photography, installation, and sculpture to create a vibrant and colorful atmosphere that examines nature, including our own.
Entering the gallery, photographic wallpaper of dandelions reach out from under a series of still life prints or memento mori: images of actual flower blossoms, carefully arranged by the artist as a mandala, inside of which, a woodland creature, formerly found along the roadside, nestles.
Of her imaging process, Munson elaborates, “I use the scanner like a large-format camera. I lay flowers directly onto it, allowing pollen and other flower stuff to fall onto the glass and become part of the image. When the high-resolution scans are enlarged, amazing details and natural structures emerge. Every flower mandala is unique to a moment in time, represents what is in bloom on the day I made it.”
When shown alongside Munson’s other piece: Reflecting Pool, a “congested installation” of heaping blue landfill trash, we are forced to confront our natural instincts– to build and discard with quick irreverence.
If you’re the type to stop and smell the roses you probably have some appreciation for the natural world. Unfortunately, in this age of technology, less and less people take time to connect with our natural surroundings, which makes the works we’re featuring here so important. The works of Jeff Koons, Ackroyd and Harvey, Binh Danh and Portia Munson all take plant-life and re-contextualize it; the viewer is faced with something familiar cast in a new light. In the cases of Koons and Ackroyd and Harvey, the scale of their works looms over the viewer to remind them that the nature of all things are continually evolving, even that of human civilization. With Portia Munson’s Garden installations, we literally walk into a new world that is groomed yet overgrown, familiar yet psychedelic. Binh Danh’s plant-based portraits balance the fragile surface of the leaves with the powerful imagery of the victims of the 1970’s Cambodian unrest. Though the works are largely different, one thing binds them together, the power of nature to communicate a feeling and a message without words.
Portia Munson turns one thousand garages worth of plastic kitsch and junk into surprisingly beautiful mounds of stuff that both uplift and mock our contemporary consumer culture. Portia will have a new installation at the PPOW exhibition “Debris” opening March 20th- if you are in NYC be sure to check it out.