A public garden & cultural center

Jan Mun

Sunroom Project Space 2017 | July 16–August 27

Pictured above: ProfileUS: Invasive Species, 2017. Photographs, inkjet print on paper, cardboard, wood, bees, live plants, pressed plants and audio recordings, dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artist. Photos: Stefan Hagen.

Jan Mun creates social sculptures with interfaces that reflect on, and critique, our political and social systems. Her investigation of the natural world becomes a framework for unfolding stories about others and herself, using a combination of artistic and scientific processes that are manifested in the form of installations, photographs, performances and bio-art. Mun’s Sunroom Project combines digital and living media to explore the female immigrant experience, expanding her ProfileUS: Invasive Species. Using the lenses of art, technology and biopolitics, this series looks at the interconnections between humans and other species who have migrated to the U.S. and are adapting to their environment. Mun’s installation includes several components: Model Citizen: Assimilation, consisting of seed envelopes of non-native plants packaged as U.S. green cards; Swarm: American Snapshots, featuring historical photos of Asian Americans; and an interactive Wardian Case that plays audio recordings of the laughter of Asian women. Each case contains non-native weed plants, found at Wave Hill, to tell a story of migration.

Invented in about 1829, the Wardian Case was used to ship plant species on long sea journeys. As countries in Asia opened to the West, opportunities arose in the West to collect a new abundance of plant specimens, forever changing the global landscape as a result. Many of these desired ornamental plants escaped, flourished in their new environments and became better known as weeds. Mun’s ProfileUS: Invasive Species explores shifts in the way that terms like non-native and invasive have been applied to migrant species, which can be viewed as desirable or troublesome, often depending on trends. Chinese wisteria, for example, was introduced in 1916 as an ornamental plant that, despite its detrimental growing habits, is still popular in home gardens because of its attractive blooms and sweet fragrance. On the other hand, Japanese knotweed, introduced in the late 1800s as an ornamental, as well as for the benefits of erosion control and landscape screening, is now designated a noxious weed. In her installation, Mun honors these two species by giving each a green card that lists not only their botanical information, but also their environmental and cultural functions.

Mun received a BFA from the State University of New York, New Paltz, and an MFA from Rhode Island School of Design. Her work has been featured in exhibitions at Saint John the Divine, New York, NY; Battery Park Conservancy, New York, NY; as well as at the ExxonMobil Greenpoint Petroleum Remediation Project, Brooklyn, NY. She has had residencies at MacDowell Colony, International Studio & Curatorial Program (ISCP), Wave Hill and Newtown Creek Alliance. Mun is the recipient of awards and grants from the New York State Council on the Arts, A Blade of Grass and the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund. She is on the Newtown Creek EPA Superfund Community Advisory Group and Technical Committee and is a Honeybee Conservancy Bee Ambassador.

Winter Workspace 2014

Pictured above: Jan Mun in her Winter Workspace studio, 2014

Jan Mun’s work explores social and environmental issues using a combination of artistic and scientific processes. Working with communities such as Newtown Creek Alliance, BeeVillageNYC, NYC Mycological Society, and the Soil and Microbiology labs at Brooklyn College, Mun innovates ideas to be realized through research, chance and collaboration. During the Winter Workspace at Wave Hill, Mun conducted research and created sketches and photographs for her ongoing projects about invasive plant species. She grew specimens and developed display systems that address environmental activism, awareness and how people relate to the natural world.


Click here to learn more about the artist. A release about the 2017 season in the Sunroom Project Space is available here.

The Arts at Wave Hill are supported by the Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Inc.; Michael J. Shannon; Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation; the National Endowment for the Arts; New York City Department of Cultural Affairs; New York Community Trust Edward and Sally Van Lier Fund; New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; The Pollock-Krasner Foundation; The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation; and by the Cathy and Stephen Weinroth Commissioning Fund for the Arts.