September 12, 2013

GREEN ACRES Spotlight – Spawning Art

Mei Ling Hom's Mycorestoration Module installation at AAC
Mei Ling Hom’s Mycorestoration Module installation at AAC

Can you imagine a beautiful sculpture that produces delicious mushrooms? If you’ve experienced the GREEN ACRES exhibition, you’ll recognize Mei Ling Hom’s Mushroom Cap – A Mycorestoration Module as a unique symbol of sustainable agriculture as art.

What sets it apart from other installations in GREEN ACRES is its quiet promise of life. The piece is essentially a mound of woven wheat straw inoculated with mushroom spores and placed atop a simple wooden table. Unless watered regularly, it will remain dormant, an elegantly curved dome of textured fibers.

Detail - Mei Ling Hom's Mycorestoration Module installation at AAC
Detail – Mei Ling Hom’s Mycorestoration Module installation at AAC

In her travels to Japan, Hom learned of farming practices that would later become a cornerstone of her work. She was particularly inspired by a practice that involved growing mushrooms in dark areas of thick forest. This is what eventually led her to incorporate mushrooms into a series of cloud installations spawning a site-specific piece, Mycelial Nimbus (Mushroom Cloud), featuring poplar logs growing Oyster mushrooms. Mycorestoration is an indoor, tabletop iteration of this concept.

Mushroom cultivation in Japan emerged when rural farmers developed a simple method to propagate fungi. This involved slicing the bark off of a log and placing it next to another log already covered in mushrooms infecting the new log with spores, which would produce more fungi.

Modern techniques involve planting mushroom spawn in plastic bags or bottles, which are then filled with a sawdust substrate. Hom’s Mycorestoration Module is a picture of contemporary methods while Mycelial Nimbus demonstrates the earlier form of cultivation. This past spring she led a workshop through which she was able to share this unique practice with community-based organizations.

Oyster Mushrooms climbing a tree - a Creative Commons Licensed image
Oyster Mushrooms climbing a tree – a Creative Commons Licensed image


Hom has always drawn inspiration from both nature and personal experience, thus her work consists of subtle layers of “historical reference and cultural experiences.” Through Mycorestoration she eloquently transmits her ideas via a conceptual form distilled from centuries of Asian agricultural innovation combined with an abstract, minimalist aesthetic.


If you’re now inspired to dig into the variety of modern gardening techniques, check out our free upcoming workshop, Urban Gardening in Containers: GREEN ACRES in a Small Space.


-Written by Benjamin Kernan, AAC’s Summer Marketing & Development Intern

The GREEN ACRES exhibition is made possible by an Emily Hall Tremaine Exhibition Award. The Exhibition Award program was founded in 1998 to honor Emily Hall Tremaine. It rewards innovation and experimentation among curators by supporting thematic exhibitions that challenge audiences and expand the boundaries of contemporary art. 

Emily Hall Tremaine Exhibition Award

Artist Talks with Andrew Barco and Elliot Doughtie

Saturday / October 21 / 1pm-3pm

Join artists Andrew Barco and Elliot Doughtie for conversations about their solo exhibitions currently on view at MoCA Arlington.

Neon Nights: Gala & Silent Auction

Wednesday / September 27 / 7pm

Join us on Wednesday, September 27 for a special gala and silent auction to benefit the Museum of Contemporary Art Arlington. Tickets range from $250 to $500 and include a 3-course dinner, silent auction, and the joy you’ll feel knowing you’re supporting the museum! Can’t attend? Consider sponsoring an artist to attend in your place!

MoCA on the Move at Met Park

Sundays 10am-12pm

MoCA Arlington at Met Park
Fun for the whole family! No Experience Required offers playful art making activities for children (and their curious adults) every Sunday morning. There will be collaborative, community-built art works, and opportunities to “make and take” works, too.