A public garden & cultural center

Jan Mun

Sunroom Project Space 2017 | July 16–August 27

Pictured above: Model Citizen: Assimilation, 2012. Inkjet print and seeds. Each seed packet measures11.4" x 3 1/4". Courtesy of the artist 

Jan Mun creates social sculptures with interfaces that elicit participation, either as a reflection on, or a critique of, our political and social systems. The landscape has become a framework for unfolding stories about others and herself, using a combination of artistic and scientific processes that manifest in the form of interactive installations, photography, performance and bio-art. Mun’s Sunroom Project combines digital and living media to explore the female immigrant experience. She will expand her ProfileUS: Invasive Species series, begun in 2012, to include Model Citizen: Assimilation and a new Interactive Audio Wardian Case that plays recorded interviews of Asian females who have migrated to the United States. Each case, stored with non-native weed plants found on the grounds at Wave Hill, tells stories of the women’s migration experience. Using a sensor that detects the presence of the visitor, the work plays the audio interviews on special speakers that can only be heard while standing in close proximity. The Wardian Case, an early version of the terrarium, was used to ship plant species on long sea journeys. It was invented c. 1829 by Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward, a physician and amateur botanist. Due to the pollution engulfing London at the time, beloved ferns often did not survive, and the enclosed glass containers provided protection from the smog.

The Wardian Case was later developed for expeditions during which, previously, plants would have died because of the length of the voyage. As countries in the Far East opened to the West, starting with the Opium War in China in 1839 and Commodore Perry’s expedition in 1853-54, forcibly opening Japan, opportunities arose in the West to collect a new abundance of plant specimens, forever changing the global landscape. Many of these desired ornamental plants escaped, flourished in their new environments and became better known as weeds.

Mun received an MFA from Rhode Island School of Design and a BFA from the State University of New York, New Paltz. Her work has been featured in exhibitions at Saint John the Divine, New York, NY; Flux Factory, Long Island City, NY; Battery Park Conservancy, New York, NY; FiveMyles, Brooklyn, NY; Newtown Creek, Brooklyn, NY; DUMBO Art Center, Brooklyn, NY, as well as the Ideas City Festival, organized by the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, NY. She has had residencies at Santa Fe Art Institute, International Studio & Curatorial Program (ISCP), iLAND Mount Tremper Arts Residency, MacDowell Colony and I-Park. Mun is the recipient of New York State Council on the Arts’ New Media Individual Artist Grant, A Blade of Grass’s inaugural Social Engaged Artist Fellowship, Harvestworks’ Education Scholarship and other awards.

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 Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Inc., Milton & Sally Avery Arts Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and by the Cathy and Stephen Weinroth Commissioning Fund for the Arts. 

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