Maryse Allard discovered transparency in an artists group; this was the beginning of her journey as a bojagi artist. Maryse respects the traditional Korean art form while creating her own unique designs inspired by art deco and architecture, often with circles and curves.
How did you find yourself on an artist’s path?
I have always loved fabrics and threads since I was young and admired my grandmothers white embroidery!
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When did you begin bojagi? How did you get started?
I discovered bojagi thanks to a book written by a Korean woman living in Japan, Yangsook Choi.
By this time I was giving patchwork classes and working in an artists group (painters, sculptors, aquarellists, fashion designers). We met every month and worked on different themes, subjects… And transparency came!
I decided to do it on my own and succeeded with great pleasure. This was the beginning of a long story ….Exhibitions, workshops and such wonderful meetings!
What do you do differently? What is your signature that makes your work stand out as yours?
I don t want to copy any Korean bojagi, this is a traditional and wonderful art in Korea. I want to be a bridge, a kind of ambassador and spread bojagi as much as possible.
I think that’s for that reason Korean artists accepted me and Chunghie Lee, who is like my mentor invited me to exhibit my works during different Korean Bojagi Forum (2014, 2016, 2018 Solo exhibition in Seoul, 2023) and to an artist residency in Jinju, city of the silk, one of the UNESCO artistic and cultural cities.
Where do you find your inspiration for your designs?
I find my inspiration in the Art Deco period, I love pure lines.
Bauhaus artists are very inspiring to me also. I love painters and designers including Sonia Delaunay, Mondrian, Josef Albers and Anni Albers, Kandinsky, Miro, Malevitch. The French painter Soulages is one of my favorites too.
I made some works recently with black and white. I love this elegant contrast and the balance of the two colors. I am very inspired by architecture too. Tadao Ando, Auguste Perret’s works are very interesting to me. I am always looking around me, curious, open minded, I can be inspired by just one detail.
I finished my studies with a master in English and Spanish, working in an export area, but I am always learning and curious about a lot of arts, painting, design, architecture, fashion.
Can you tell us more about the process of your pieces? How does a new work come about?
I just make small designs for my projects. Almost everything is in my brain, my mind.
I can see it finished in my brain and until the work in progress doesn’t correspond to this image, I go on working.
It’s sometimes just one or two stitches missing or not! I can’t really explain, but I notice it’s always the same even for different styles of works.
I love to challenge myself and make different styles of bojagis. I love to experiment and make some works with curves and circles which are not traditional.
What is your favorite feature of working in bojagi?
Transparency is one of my first interests; I am really fascinated by transparency.
I love to mix different fabrics, thicker or thinner. You see, you don’t see… I love to see my bojagis all day, with sun, less sun. It looks like fabric is alive and playing with the sun, the light. This is really fascinating.
Sometimes fabrics are full of light, even too much and sometimes, at the end of the day, seams and design become strong and I feel a great emotion looking at my work.
When I exhibit my works I love to fold them and play with the design! Always different. I love to see my works gently blowing in the wind and my pleasure is organizing a kind of labyrinth: visitors enter my world, feel peace and quietness out of real life.
This was my main target when I wrote my book.
Tell us a bit about you where you work.
I work in my studio, at home and love working by hand. I feel like meditating, out of the world, listening to music, all different kinds of music. I am very eclectic.
I don’t like to work with sewing machine, for me this is just working and I don’t feel so free. When I create I need to feel free, very far from daily life. I love the idea of the seams and threads breathing up and down through the fabric. Exactly like me, breathing and enjoying.
When you travel, do you create while on planes and in waiting areas? What is in your creative travel kit?
I only work at home, quietly in my studio. I tried several times to work travelling or during an exhibition. This is not good for me, my creation. I always throw away what I have done!
I can explain with great pleasure, show it to visitors and students but I can’t work for myself.
At home I can work for a long day or just for some hours. It depends on my projects. Sometimes I feel really excited by my project and need to go on quickly, so I work all day. Sometimes I just take my time, enjoy creating and just work a few hours per day.
I am very busy with workshops and exhibitions too. So now I really miss this creative time, quiet at home…
How often do you start a new project? Do you work actively on more than one project at a time?
Beginning a new project is always very exciting! I take some time for preparing my fabrics, threads ….. This is part of the pleasure too…
Do you think that creativity is part of human nature or is it something that must be nurtured and learned?
About the creation it could be sometimes different. Some people are creative without knowing and others don’t want to because they feel shy! Never mind, just try and let’s see what happens … You could be surprised.
I love to share on social media some works made, created by my students. So much creativity sometimes and so much fun!
Creativity sometimes is just playing and trying and sometimes a long way, maturing, thinking and hard to manage. It depends of the moment, Yes creativity is part of human nature, children love designing and creating but when they become older, sometimes they forget. Just think about that and let s play again.
When was the first time that you remember realizing that you are a creative person?
I realized I was a creative person and an artist first by meeting and sharing with visitors in my exhibitions and then with other artists by talking about our creation and design process. It was quite a long time for me to realize that!
I think my family and my friends told me before I really felt it! When I see how many invitations and proposals I receive now I can feel that my work is interesting and I think I can say I am an artist.
Do you lecture or teach workshops? How can students/organizers get in touch with you to schedule an event?
I have been teaching, giving lectures and spreading bojagi in so many countries: Europe (Italy, Spain, Czech Republic and France of course) in Great Britain ,in the USA, in Russia, in Turkey, in Japan and of course in Korea. I have exhibited in all those countries in big festivals and every time it is amazing.
People are so interested, curious, they sometimes discover bojagi for the first time and this makes me happy and proud.
Last year I made a wonderful workshop with TextileArtist.org and this was another rich experience, sharing with people from all over the world, very far from me and sometimes without any materials. This was just amazing, some of them made incredible works, creative and very interesting.
One of my pieces in now part of the Chojun Textile – Quilt Art Museum in Seoul and very often I miss it but I am so happy it is in such a place.
My last wonderful experience was last June when I was invited by Chunghie Lee to be part of an artist residency in Jinju, the city of silk in Korea. This beautiful city is producing wonderful silk and is now part of the UNESCO network. There were nine international artists (Germany, Poland, Venezuela, Colombia, France, Mexico and United States) and ten Korean artists from Jinju. We worked together for ten days at the jinju craftcenter and those days will remain for a long time in my heart. So strong memories, so rich moments, unforgettable!
Our works will be exhibited during the Jinju Biennale next October.
I love interviews too, this is a new for me to share and to spread more about bojagi and my work. I had one during covid with Quilt Folk and I am really proud of the last one, with Korea Net through a talented honorary reporter Diaz.
So I think I could go everywhere in the world teaching, exhibiting and spreading bojagi. I already have a lot of projects: next September in Corsica, Carrefour Europeen du Patchwork, Secrets d’Artistes in the South of France.
Where can people see your work?
Interview posted August 2023
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