Mary Merkel-Hess grew up in the farmlands of Iowa, where she still lives and works. Studying both metalsmithing and fiber for her undergraduate degrees, Merkel-Hess received an MFA in metalsmithing from the University of Iowa under the tutelage of Professor Chunghi Choo.
Merkel-Hess creates what she calls “landscape reports.” Working with reeds, paper cords, and a mixture similar to papier-mâché, Merkel-Hess creates sculptural basket-like forms inspired by the natural surroundings in Iowa.
– Craft In America, Nature
Beautifully unexpected merger of performance, dance, and sculpture. The Sticks suites were some of artist Nick Cave’s first performance sculptures. Built after the beating of Rodney King in 1992. The work came as a response for his search for a material that embodied a sense of being discarded, ignored and unvalued.
“I was thinking about, well, you know, I’m a black male. I don’t know what it’s like to feel discarded, dismissed, devalued,” he said. “And, you know, I was in the park and I was really sort of going through this emotional struggle with that incident and my own sort of identity. You know, the moment I leave my house I could be a victim of circumstances, you just never know.”
The work he created becomes a second skin, a physically and emotionally protective space, where the artist/dancer can embody and express themselves in a way they previously could not. The works become a tool for protest. The sound the suits made when the artist moved in them gave the works a voice.
“But I didn’t even think I could put it on the body,” he admitted. “And then once I stepped into it I thought about building this sort of second skin, you know, a suit of armor, something for protection purposes. Then I started thinking about protest. In order to be heard you’ve got to be aggressive, you’ve got to speak louder.”
The result is something bigger than life. A human voice is easy to overlook, but a presence and sound so unexpected is harder to ignore.
Projection mapping today tends towards the large-scale spectacle. ‘A tale on textile – The colony‘ explores projection mapping on textile. It is a collaborative work that shows the subtle beauty projection mapping can lend to small-scale objects and interactions. Combining the textural surfaces of a textile sculpture and subtle video projection creates a fascinating opportunity for narrative. The work was a collaboration between Joshuah Howard, Lorenz Potthast, Jonas Wiese, and Svenja Keune. The ten-minute mapped video loop uses light and sound to give a sense of organic life to an inanimate object whose surface already evokes a sense of texture and touch.
Over different phases the narrative story wins presence and space. The content is no classical animation, but more a play with potential properties, behaviors and processes. In exchange with the materiality and structure of the sculpture the textile and the projection merge together into an convincing staging which can be arranged performative but also interactive.
“A tale on textile” explores the possibilites of textile surfaces with a dynamic content. A particular potential lies in the material properties in terms of light permeability and impermeability, color brilliance, as well as the tactile qualities. In the collaborative work between textile and virtual surface emerged new possibilites and approaches to support, but also to disrupt the other field. Whether as installation, interface or media room elements: Textile surfaces with media content are opening total new perspectives.