Matt Merkel Hess, American Stoneware
Thomas Hunter Project Space
930 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY
Through December 20
Reception: December 13, 6:30-8pm
Snakes, eagles, political figures, and snack food collide in this new body of ceramic work by Matt Merkel Hess. Drawing on 17th to 19th century stoneware crocks, 20th century song lyrics, and recent political upheavals, Merkel Hess weaves together signs, symbols and forms that embody and embrace the American experience. The work draws particular inspiration from the slimy, grotesque world depicted in the 19th century snake jugs crafted by the Kirkpatrick Brothers of Anna, Illinois, along with the verdant, joyful stoneware crocks made by David Jarbour in Alexandria, Virginia in the 1820s. Building on Merkel Hess’s previous explorations of plastic, everyday containers such as 5 gallon buckets, this new body of work includes 2 liter soda bottles, Kool Aid Man pitchers, and wheel-thrown ceramic Cheetos bags, which all deepen and expand the artist’s exploration of what it means to be a ceramic vessel maker.
Matt Merkel Hess has exhibited widely and has work in the permanent collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Crocker Museum in Sacramento, Calif.; and the Nerman Museum in Overland Park, Kansas. Born and raised in Iowa, he studied at the University of Kansas before moving to Los Angeles, where he received an MFA at the University of California, Los Angeles in 2010. Merkel Hess lives and works in New York City. For more information, please visit merkelhess.com