Barbara Heller

The tapestry work of Barbara Heller

The tapestry work of Barbara Heller

Barbara’s work has long been some of my favorite work in tapestry. Take a look at some current and past work in the photos below and then check out her website linked at the end of the post. Her work often deals with issues of humanity’s relationship to the environment but her work is extensive and varied and well worth study.

While we were looking at the show, I asked Barbara some about her practice and if she had any advice for younger artists. She said that she had had a teacher early on who told her to weave every day. She replied that often she didn’t know what was next. She didn’t have an idea for a new piece yet, so she was waiting for that to happen. The teacher replied that it didn’t matter. She should weave every day. If she didn’t have a new idea, she should weave her sketches or anything else she could think of. Just weave.

As someone who often finds herself in that place of “I don’t have the next idea worked out,” I found this to be exceptional advice. I think that the practice brings you through the times where you don’t feel an idea bursting out. The weaving itself will result in new experiences and the next piece will come quicker this way.

Barbara took that advice. She weaves every day and her vast body of work is testament to that.


I stepped off the loom a bit ago because I had some design ideas running through my head--some inspired by the amazing work of Barbara Heller and photos I had seen of her ghost series.  I got on the computer to see if she had a website and found many photos of her amazing work.  Then I stumbled across the Canadian tapestry network and was surprised to see my blog linked there (thank you whoever is responsible for that one!).  Well, that just made me think I'd better get busy and pay some attention to my blog.  But the bottom line is that I really need to get busy and pay some attention to my loom.  It is so easy to get lost in the online worlds at the computer and forget about the worlds I want to create in my art.  I start to dream about shows I want to enter and which works will be good for what venue, and forget that the real experience I am touching is at the design table and the loom.  Art, for me, is not about the show at the end of a body of work.  It is about the experience of touching something essential within myself and putting that out in the world.  It is easy to forget this when I get busy and flustered by the everyday happenings of life.

The Canadian tapestry network website will be a future source of inspiration and exploration as it is large and full of amazing work.  I'm glad I ran across it.  But for today, I must finish a piece I'm working on that was inspired by Anni Albers and her connection of text to weaving... more about that when I'm done with the piece.  I feel myself ready to finish this work and move forward with a more personal series dealing with the layers in our lives and how we hide and express ourselves (thus my interest in the "ghosts" of Barbara's amazing tapestries).