• Mary Merkel-Hess, Ionia, 2004, reed, paper and acrylic paint, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mary and Stephen Merkel-Hess in honor of Jane Milosch, 2007.15.1

Mary Merkel-Hess’s sculptural baskets recall the natural landscape in her native Iowa. The thin paper rods and reeds, used throughout her work, mimic the tall grasses and cultivated fields found throughout the state. Here, Merkel-Hess tightly gathered the reeds at the base, leaving the upper section loose. She painted the organic materials a bright red, which emphasizes the spaces between the reeds at the top. Though the reeds are not free moving, they give the impression of tall grasses blowing in the wind.

Ionia is one of the paper vessels that I have named for towns in Iowa … The place names are not specific to that experience [process of study] or the piece itself, but they do recall my association with my environment. In the case of Ionia, as with many Iowa place names, the word itself recalls another place in the world.” Artist correspondence

271610 in. (68.640.625.4 cm)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Gift of Mary and Stephen Merkel-Hess in honor of Jane Milosch

Mediums Description
reed, paper and acrylic paint
Object Number
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