Portrait Garden is a metaphorical garden of 'portraits' of eleven women incarcerated at Maryland Correctional Institution for Women, a multilevel security prison in Jessup, Maryland. Portrait Garden used environmental stewardship as a tool for self-reflection, resulting in the creation of three perennial gardens on the prison grounds. Cazabon conducted interviews with each woman, asking them to self-identify with perennial plants. She then selected for each an additional, native species. In the fall of 2013, Cazabon and the women established the gardens, which the women continued to maintain. The following spring, Cazabon returned to photograph the mature plants, creating Portrait Garden, a collection of photographs of the cultivated plants paired with the recorded conversations she shared with each woman.
Portrait Garden was first exhibited as a series of 100 interactive posters installed in Baltimore Light Rail trains in December 2014 - January 2015. The project has since been exhibited in galleries and published in book form, Portrait Garden: Self-Renewal Through Environmental Stewardship (Center for Art, Design, and Visual Culture, 2017). In order to protect the identity of the participants, first names only are used and in some cases, the names have been changed.
Lynn Cazabon is an artist who creates work using a wide range of media and methodologies. She is also a Professor of Art at University of Maryland Baltimore County. Portrait Garden was funded by a Rubys Media Arts Grant, conceived and initiated with start-up funding from the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation and are a program of the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance.