By Rachel Werner | Photos Courtesy Madison Museum of Contemporary Art

A living, ever-evolving work of art may sound like the figment of a very active imagination. Indeed, Meg Mitchell’s creative genius was working on overdrive when she mocked up the concept for the “Hops Exchange,” her plant-based installation added earlier this year to the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art’s rooftop sculpture garden.

“I’ve spent a lot of time in recent years working with edible plants and I wanted whatever I created to fit the site, but also have a practical function and social history tied to it,” says Meg Mitchell, an associate professor of digital media at UW-Madison. “Hops were once used as a form of currency in the ancient world, which checks the latter box, in addition to activating the space at MMoCA in a way a static object would not.”

Mitchell has a history of pushing preconceived notions in the art world. Her initial academic years spent studying fine arts at the University of South Florida focused on photography, though she eventually gravitated toward sculpture before making the leap into commercial, web and interactive design.

“I create work in many media because I will work in any media necessary for the ideas that I want to engage with,” she says. “I think of the historical baggage that accompanies each process—whether it is something traditionally within the boundaries of art such as printmaking, or some process that is historically viewed as “nonart,” such as ornamental gardening or horticulture.” megmitchell.com.

Celebrate with Mitchell at MMoCA’s  “Tenacious Numismatic Hops Exchange” event, Oct. 6. MMoCA, Madison. mmoca.org.

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