The Garden, 1996

Miami Beach 2019
Mixed Media
Mixed-media installation

The Garden takes the form of a woman’s bedroom densely layered with floral dresses, stuffed animals, found furniture, and a myriad of fake flowers. Seductive and repulsive, this installation provides a critical context for showcasing the range of products marketed as ‘female’ and analyzing the limitations of gender-normative social structures.
In the 20 years since it debuted, The Garden increasingly elucidates connections between hostility to feminism and the continued destruction of our environment. A claustrophobic den of beautiful refuse, the installation amplifies capitalism’s vision of bourgeois femininity, where the act of acquiring to meet societal standards fuels the momentum of hyper-consumption and climate crisis. The Garden proposes that disrespect for the environment runs parallel to pervasive disdain for women, inviting viewers to meditate on the irony of manufacturing a regressive notion of beauty while simultaneously annihilating our natural world.

Portia Munson (born 1961 in Beverly, Massachusetts) is a visual artist who works in a range of mediums including photography, painting, sculpture, and installation. Her artistic practice focuses on environmental and cultural themes seen from a feminist perspective. Munson has a MFA from Rutgers University and has taught at NYU, Yale School of Art, Vassar College, and Purchase College, SUNY. Her work has been shown in major public and private exhibition spaces since the early 1990s and she was awarded a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant in 2019. Munson lives and works in Catskill, New York.

Access the Audio Guide by Magalí Arriola.