Fiber artist Mary Merkel-Hess was born in 1949 and grew up in Evansdale and Gilbertville, Iowa. She has one younger sibling. She received her B.A. in Philosophy from Marquette University in 1971, and her B.F.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 1976. She earned her M.F.A. in metalsmithing from the University of Iowa in 1983. She is married and has two children.
"I make vessels because I am fascinated with form and structure. I look for inspiration in the natural world, and then allow technique to mesh with these visual ideas to create something new. I enjoy all aspects of this process: the appreciation of the world around me that suggests ideas and the search for a method of construction that allows my ideas to take shape."
"I make baskets using a technique that I developed, a combination of three-dimensional collage and papier mache. The vessels are made over moulds. Small pieces of paper are applied with glue to the mould and allowed to dry, thus creating a paper form that is removed from its mould and further manipulated. Over the years, I have discovered many variations of this technique. I have used thin and thick papers, varied the shapes, and included paper cord, reed, or fiber in the body of the vessels. I have made interior forms for the baskets and then cored them with a "skin" of transparent paper."
Brown/Grotta Gallery, Wilton, CT
Materia, Scottsdale, AZ
Olson-Larsen Galleries, West Des Moines, IA