Portia Munson, "Memento Mori Mandalas"

For the “Cross Pollination” exhibition here at Olana, I have created four large artworks on silk. These works are placed throughout Frederic Church’s landscape at Olana. Having lived in the Catskills for much of my life, I am observing changes to our local environment, including increased roads, cars, light pollution, development with buildings that have large glass windows, which are so treacherous for birds, and seeing the general impact our human behavior has on the wildlife and natural places. Starting in the early 2000s, I began making scanned photographic images of found, lifeless birds, and other small creatures, many of them found along our local roadsides. I combine these creatures with flowers gathered from my garden – I’m an avid gardener – creating images inspired by the color and structure of both the flowers and the birds, arranging them in concentric positions directly on my scanner. These images are meant to honor the wild creatures, creating what I think of as still life Memento Mori Mandalas. I think that it’s important for us all to stop and take a moment to reflect on the beautiful place that we live, and also to reflect on the impact that we have on it, and I hope that with this work you’re also able to just take a closer look and a pause and just appreciate and think about where we live and who we are sharing this beautiful place with.