Duct tape and Taco Bell

For Rebecca Hed ’21, an innovative artistic media brings about a national scholarship and philanthropic outlet in memory of her dad.

By Monique Kleinhuizen ’08, GS’16, new media strategist

January 10, 2019 | 1:30 p.m.

Rebecca Hed ’21 and a piece of her signature duct tape art

Rebecca Hed ’21 and a piece of her signature duct tape art

“My name is Rebecca Hed, and I am a duct tape artist.”

It took a while for art major and business minor Rebecca Hed ’21 to state that confidently.

She’s a third-generation Royal, with her grandfather Robert '50, S'51; father Steve ’77; and brother Andrew ’18 at Bethel before her. Her parents launched Hed Cycling in the 1980s, creating a line of premium bicycle wheels and components that have become the standard for global cycling competitors.

“The first bike expo I went to was when I was 7; I’ve just grown up in it,” Hed says, admitting she races herself and has always been surrounded by elite athletes. But when it came to art, she didn’t like to draw attention to herself. For years, she didn’t even like to admit that she was an artist, although she can’t remember a time when she wasn’t creating something.

“But it’s kind of like two different lives for me,” Hed adds, noting that people immediately think “bikes” when they hear her last name. “But my parents were awesome in understanding that I may want to do my own thing someday, though, too.”

She found out what “her own thing” was at a friend’s house in middle school, when she learned how to make a wallet out of colored duct tape—a pastime that was widely popular at the time. From there, she started making more and more intricate wallets and 3D flowers and stockpiling new colors of tape. Soon, she was creating portraits and corporate logos—original, interesting designs made out of layered, geometric, cut pieces of tape. While Hed chose duct tape as her medium of choice, she also pushes herself to dabble in other forms and media, constantly pivoting to new creative endeavors as she pursues a Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) at Bethel.

“One of the classes I’m taking right now is helping me ask myself how to simplify my work; what it looks like to break down my art in order to build it up again,” says Hed. “And I’m learning the art side, but I’m also learning the business side of things…it’s awesome how my professors come alongside us and want us to be successful.”

When her father died unexpectedly in 2014 and she tore her ACL the same week, Hed went through a period where she grappled with her identity and how she would overcome the traumatic events that took away one of her biggest role models and, temporarily, her ability to bike. She remembers her guidance counselor pulling her aside and saying, “Rebecca, I don’t want you to graduate high school and be known as the girl whose dad died. I want you to be remembered for who you are and what you did.” So she turned to art when she couldn’t exercise and came into her own as a creative.

“Besides being an incredible inventor, my dad was also an amazing artist…we’d bounce ideas off each other all the time. Growing up, if I had an idea for an art project, my parents would just buy me the supplies and tell me to go do it,” says Hed. A year after her father died, she began covering her dad’s signature three-spoke bike wheels in duct tape. “The bike wheel was what my dad created. Turning that into my canvas was one way that I chose to keep his legacy alive.”

She took part in the pilot of the Emerging Artist Curriculum offered through her high school, Concordia Academy, further developing her art. She went to the state art competition twice and placed second in the congressional art competition, and her winning portrait was on display in Congresswoman Betty McCollum’s office in Washington, D.C., for a year. She’s been one of the artists creating “art wheels” for the Spye Steve Hed Memorial Auction, with sales benefiting families dealing with cancer.

And in February 2018, she was driving to church with her mom, Anne, and brother when they heard about the Taco Bell Foundation Live Más Scholarship on the radio and realized the deadline for applications was that night. Andrew—a videographer—had the equipment to help make it happen, Rebecca jotted down some notes in the car, and they spent the whole afternoon filming and editing a video profile telling the story of her work.

In May, she realized she had won, meaning she was among the best of more than 7,000 applicants from across the country. She received $5,000—complete with a prize box containing a gigantic check—and has since taken part in an art show and local creative workshop through the foundation, whose mission is to bring attention to art and other student interests that college scholarships don’t often recognize.

Rebecca remembers telling her testimony in her high school senior chapel and a friend coming up to her after she had shared what it was like to overcome the loss of a parent. He said something that stuck with Rebecca and—though there are still hard days—pointed at a kind of success: “He said, ‘You know what, Rebecca?’” she says with a smile. “I kind of forgot that that happened to you!”

Art and Design at Bethel

With four majors, two minors, 14 faculty members, and specialized studio spaces, Bethel’s Department of Art and Design helps students build technical skills while growing their creativity and honing their creative processes. Bethel is home to two on-campus galleries, and students have numerous opportunities to show their work at juried shows in the Twin Cities art community and beyond.

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