Heasoon Arzberger Rhee is the weaver of Bettlehouse. Heasoon was born and raised in South Korea. In 1980, she moved to the United States as a graduate student. After finishing her Ph.D. degree in textile science from the University Wisconsin-Madison, she worked as a textile chemist for a research institute, chemical company, and museum. During these years, she learned the nature and interplay of fibers and developed her passion for weaving.
One of her most memorable projects was weaving 50 yards of silk fabric for her mother’s burial shroud; a task typically prepared done by Korean children while their parents are still alive. Through this experience, she discovered her interest in weaving with silk. Since then, it has become her fiber of choice for its feel and its light refraction qualities.
Most of her works are created with two complicated looms which allow graphic imagery and pattern to be woven with articulation. In the development process, these patterns are created with a combination of rough sketching and precise drawing with the aid of a computer design program. Once the pattern is done, the samples are woven to adjust the differing proportions between a digitally designed piece and the actual woven piece.
She is firmly committed to preparing her own warps as they become the foundation upon which the entire weaving rests. It begins with white yarns. She mixes dyes to achieve her own colors not available in commercially dyed yarns. To create one-of-a-kind wearable art piece, understanding of the construction and behavior of the materials is essential. Without such understanding, the pieces might be beautiful to the eyes but do not have any wearable quality.
Over time, her work evolved from wearable art pieces to artistic works. For the past four years, using a digital jacquard loom, she has experimented with the weaving techniques to create abstract pieces, natural beauty and portraits.
Please visit her studio 6 at the Torpedo Factory Art Center at Alexandria, VA.