Future Prairie Radio Season 1 Episode 1: Imagining the End of Plastic with Artist Portia Munson
Our first guest is artist Portia Munson. Portia Munson’s large scale object-based installations speak to our environmental imprint and consumerist culture through a feminist lens. Munson works in a range of mediums including photography, painting, sculpture and installation and focuses primarily on environmental and cultural themes. Munson’s work has been shown in major public and private exhibition spaces since the early 1990s, when she held “White Room” exhibition at White Columns (NY 1993) and was included in the “Bad Girls” show at the New Museum of Contemporary Art (NY 1994). In 2015, she created a large-scale light box installation at the Bryant Park subway station for New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority.
Right now she’s having a show called Flood at Disjecta, a gallery in Portland, Oregon. Flood is a meditation on archive, materiality, and mass consumption. Describing her process of as “collecting objects and assembling, in essence using as my resource the refuse of consumer culture,” Munson assembles thousands of found objects, all of them made of blue plastic, creating a singular large-scale installation.
Flood was curated by Julia Greenway, who began her curatorial practice with Interstitial a contemporary new media gallery in Georgetown. Her work focuses on how digital media influences the aesthetic presentation of gender, economics, and environment. In 2015, Julia was recognized by the New Foundation Seattle as part of its New Fellows program. Greenway is Disjecta’s Curator-in-Residence.
At the entrance of the exhibition, the visitor is greeted by multiple vitrines encasing found objects. Among the display cases, wall-mounted monitors display video footage of scanned installation materials. Flood, the installation work in which the exhibition takes its title, fills Disjecta’s main gallery. Carefully sorted, arranged, and compartmentalized, blue objects cover the floor in its entirety. Muson’s installation speaks to humanity’s failure to contain its waste. Through monumental scope, Flood constructs an archive through which we can decipher the artifacts of consumerism.
I hosted Portia for a drink and spoke with her about the show, her inspiration, and how we think about plastic.
You can hear the full episode here.
See more about Portia here.