Reflections on Portia Munson’s Feminist Work

Hello everyone! I’ve been really busy with doing artist talks with Creative Pinellas which I will write about soon, but I wanted to add in a blog post about another artist that I’m looking at right now named Portia Munson.

Although not strictly a painter, she’s an interdisciplinary artist working in installations, paintings, photography, and sculptures that deal with the environment and feminism.

I saw her work when I was in New York last at the Museum of Sex, specifically to see her exhibition. I wanted to share a couple of photos from the work and how it’s been shaping my work, conceptually, as well.

When I first entered the gallery, the wall said “Welcome to the fuzzy pink space between appreciation and objectification”.

To sum up some of the areas it says “…Portia Munson creates a dreamy womb-like chamber filled with all the stuff girls “need”. On view at the Museum of Sex for the first time, Munson’s playful and prescient drawings, paintings, and maximalist installations center on the many, and often conflicting expectations we put on the production and consumption of the female body…”

“In Nude II (2022), on view for the first time, a naked mannequin, her mouth agape, wears a garment composed of restricting stockings and mass-produced breast-mugs. In painted and drawn still-life mediations on individual objects found within Munson’s installations, including dolphin clips, a candle formed into vulvas and decapitated women turned to bottle openers, Muson confronts us with the many things we acquire, revere or discard.”

So let’s take a look shall we?

Nude II(2022)

Along the walls are paintings and drawings of these individual objects that include decapitated women and cropped body parts. I love the restriction of this figure that looks like its almost screaming and trying to escape from the breast mugs that seem to engulf here. I love the play of exposed body parts simultaneously covering the mannequin. These cropping of body parts as objects really resonated with me.

Drawings of these objects aligned the walls along with paintings that used traditionally feminine colors but with sinister subjects.

There was another sculpture of collected objects that were incredibly thought provoking and interesting. I then finally stepped into the “Pink Room” which is supposed to resemble a womb. I found it actually very peaceful to go in there. There were pink things everywhere along with pink lights and music that sounded like it came from a music box. There were mirrors as well which added to the dizzying effect. I found these incredibly interesting and loved seeing all of the different objects that she had collected. It also made me reflect alot on Barbara Kruger’s piece “I Shop therefore I am”, especially in terms of how women are the largest consumer of products. I thought a lot about the performative aspects of gender and how being a woman there is an expectation to have your favorite color be pink and to cover yourself in delicate fabrics, these suggested objects were next to very aggressively pink sex toys and pink clothing. It truly is not for the faint of heart but it was incredible.

If you happen to be in New York, “The Pink Bedroom” will still be open at the Museum of Sex until July 26th.

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