The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art's Rooftop Sculpture Garden features a new interactive installation titled Tenacious Numismatic Hops Exchange (TNHE): a hop garden for unyielding people. Designed to resemble architectural trusses, this site-specific, living artwork combines the visual language of industrial construction with an ethic of social engagement. Artist Meg Mitchell conceived of her sculptural installation, familiarly referred to as the Hops Exchange, as a creative platform to address the socio-economic history of the hop plant and, by extension, the history of labor and material exchange—the intersection of power and commerce.
The Hops Exchange is comprised of a series of six trusses that serve both as structural supports to grow hop vines, and as simple machines that can be manually operated using a winch and pulley system. The relative ease of lowering and raising the trussess enables the hops to be harvested each autumn, which will become an integral component of MMoCA's now-annual harvest festival. The autumnal harvest will be accomanied by an artist-led interactive experience that honors Mitchell's artistic interest in the experiential and participatory over the self-contained, static object.
Meg Mitchell is Associate Professor of Digital Media in the Department of Art at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her work has been featured in numerous group and solo exhibitions, at venues such as the Evergreen Museum and Library in Baltimore, MD, Atlantic Center for the Arts, Conner Contemporary, the DC Art Center, the International Waldkunst Zentrum in Germany, and most recently at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art as part of the Wisconsin Triennial. Her work has been featured in many publications, such as Art Papers, Art in America and the Washington Post. She was awarded an Expanded Artist’s Book grant from Columbia College Chicago for her collaborative project with Denise Bookwalter, “Rain/fall,” a data driven artist’s book and mobile application.