I am a sculptor, potter, manufacturer and merchandiser and use my work to mess with boundaries and adopt multiple causes. I mostly work in clay, but have also produced catalogues, advertising and branding strategies that play with language and commodification.
My best-known work replicates plastic vessels such as milk crates and trash cans in glazed ceramic, turning mass-produced items into semi-precious objects that resonate with the history of pottery. I also produce a line of artisanal, wheel-thrown pottery called MerkelWare and in 2012 launched a line of figurines and mini-sculptures called MerkelCraft Art & Novelties.
Recently, I’ve begun making large ceramic sculptures or “Things” that begin on the wheel and are then cut, altered and remade. This work pays homage to the 1950s sculptures that Peter Voulkos made in Los Angeles and incorporates elements of my previous work such as the ceramic milk crates. In this way, I hope to revisit work from the past as a way to reinvent my own practice and contribute to the tradition of ceramic art in Los Angeles.
Each part of my practice supports the other, and they are all intermingled. The common thread between everything is what I can do with my hands, my mind and my time. Ultimately, I hope my work reaches towards the idea that art exists in galleries and museums and as party of daily life.
Select Solo Exhibitions
Things , Volume Gallery, Chicago
Hereafter , Salon 94 Freemans, New York
Anvils , ACME., Los Angeles
Bucketry , ACME., Los Angeles
Devils Tower–LA , Las Cienegas Projects, Los Angeles
Select Group Exhibitions
Corporeal Impulse , Vincent Price Art Museum, Los Angeles
Faux Real , Laguna Art Museum, Laguna Beach
Venice Boardwalk Biennial , Venice, California
.SUM: Matthias Merkel Hess, William O’Brien, Arlene Shechet,
Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Overland Park, Kansas
Select Fellowships and Awards
18th Street Arts Center Project Room Award, 2010
University of California, Los Angeles
University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas