Mary Merkel-Hess, American, born 1949
Blue Reed is intricately connected to the simplicity and austerity of the Midwestern landscape. Taking visual cues from the natural world, Mary Merkel-Hess makes art because she is fascinated by form and structure. “I like grasses growing tightly in a ditch. . . . I look for details that evoke the whole.” Paper, the artist’s chosen material, enables Merkel-Hess to make large objects, such as Blue Reed, in a swift and fluid process. Her work is firmly rooted in basket making, but functionality is not the goal. Blue Reed sends the message that a basket presents in terms of shape, recalling our daily existence. But in recreating textures found in nature, it becomes a spiritual vessel for meditation and contemplation.