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Matthias Merkel Hess’s project is to make ceramic objects that relate to both contemporary art and the history of pottery. He calls himself an artist and a potter (claiming not to like the word “ceramicist” because it ends in “cyst”), though he also makes drawings, posters, and conceptual objects. He is most famous for creating ceramic casts of functional, everyday plastic containers, such as crates, jugs, and buckets; Hess confesses to having particular attraction to retro or vintage Rubbermaid products, which are staples in his studio for mixing glazes. Among his best-known works are brightly colored 40-gallon trashcans in the “Brutes” series (2010). Hess also uses his body as a tool for making works, particularly in a series of bowls fashioned from the imprint of his knee, as well as through use of his “One Merkel Ruler”, a straight-edge the length of his arm.
American, b. 1978, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, based in Los Angeles, California