Han-ah Yoo: “Relationships: Invisible, but Extant”

installation image of hung textiles and projections on a mannequin

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A Design Studies Master in Fine Arts Online Exhibition

Relationships: Invisible, but Extant is an exhibition of creative works is designed to provoke awareness of the adverse ecological impacts of the fashion industry.

The textile industry is one of the major sources of pollution related to multiple levels of the ecosystem. Each year over a hundred billion items of clothing is produced globally. During washing and manufacturing synthetic textile products, thousands of different chemicals and tons of microfibers are emitted, and the emission causes risks to aquatic organisms and terrestrial biodiversity including humans. These are complex webs of interaction that go unseen.

The expressive textile and video artworks poetically reference the visible and invisible relationships in our lives. The fabrics are embellished with tangled and complex geometric shapes that are inspired by nature and our body (blood and plant cell, surface of mushroom, root, etc.). From far away, they may not be obvious, but as the viewer comes closer they will become aware of the tens of thousands of dots and lines. Like the ambiguous and complex relationships between nature, human, and the industry, you have to stop and look at the relationships we have ignored or missed. The video collages of the impact manufacturing process and textile wastes are connected to the textile artworks through the optical fibers, lights, and shadows to help viewers understand the behind story of textile industry and connect with the environmental and social issues.

About Han-ah Yoo

photograph of installed woven piece in dark thread with projected red light behind it.
Han-Ah Yoo. “Relationships: The Umbilical Cord.” Detail. 2×2 ft. Optical fibers, used curtain, tablecloth, fence, projection. 2021.

Han-Ah Yoo is a fashion and textile designer who is interested in how design can have a favorable influence on society. She deals with environmental and social issues that have adversely affected society using the artistic sensibility and various media including textile, painting, printmaking, digital design, etc. She believes that a designer/ an artist can be a communicator who talks about social issues through design works. She explored many paths including a fashion designer, an art educator, and exhibition manager before pursuing an MFA at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

She was born in a small village surrounded by mountains, grass fields, and streams. She developed her artistic sensibility through the colorful sights, various auditory, olfactory, and tactile elements from nature. She has explored her design experience under her mother who is a children art educator and jewelry artist. Leaves, flowers, rocks, beads, fabrics, leftover leathers were her friends. She was enjoying to see how the materials are manipulated, make harmony, and finally be a new form next to her mother.

Seventy years ago, the church where her grandfather and father both worked as a pastor and an educator began with the support of the U.S. army. For that reason, harmony, serving, and sharing has been the most important value of her family, and these became her design and teaching philosophy.

Her current works evoke stories from the fast fashion industry and are seeking new ways to articulate the complexity of the fashion industry and engage communities in caring for the relationship between the environment and society.

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“Relationships: Invisible, but Extant” is a Design Studies Master in Fine Arts Exhibition for the Spring Semester 2021. Originally intended to be installed in the Ruth Davis Design Gallery, the exhibition is supported by the Design Studies Department at the School of Human Ecology. Private installation and events occurring April 16-April 23, 2021. The exhibition is not open to the public.