Mary Merkel-Hess was born on April 6, 1949 in Waterloo, Iowa. She grew up in an extended family near Gilbertville, Iowa. She attended Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI and graduated in 1971 with a BA in sociology and philosophy. She attended art school and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and received a BFA in 1976. While there she studied with Ruth Gao and Mary Tingley.
In 1977, she began graduate work at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, IA. She studied metalsmithing with Chunghi Choo and received an MFA in 1983. After graduation, she became a full-time studio artist. She gave up metalsmithing but continued to work in paper, developing her own techniques for making paper structures. She takes occasional breaks from studio work to teach and give workshops. Her work is exhibited widely and is in many private and public collections.
University of Iowa. School of Art and Art History
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