A MESSENGER OF PEACE AND LOVE

 Jeong-Ae Ju, an artist who comes from South Korea, divides her time among several locations including Sotteville (France). One of her works, which like all her art sends a message of peace and love, is featured on the cover of this issue. We meet the woman who describes herself as “an eternal optimist”.

 

 “Friends tell me that I’m still a little girl, that I’ve never grown up…It’s true in a way. Let’s just say that even when things are difficult I still think life is beautiful. I’m an eternal optimist!”

 That’s the way Jeong-Ae Ju describes herself and sets the tone of her work, which from her beginnings as an artist has communicated messages of peace and love.

 “I came to France as a student, and what interested me particularly was seeing how artists worked here,” she explains. “The respect and freedom I found, and the variety of cultures, were so awesome I decided to stay!”

 So for the past two decades, the artist has divided her time between Asia and Europe. This has given her a broader outlook on her own work, she says.

 “When I started out, I based my art on an image of paradise that I held. But I sensed that my work wasn’t being perceived as down-to-earth enough, that I needed a stronger message in order to be heard,” she explains. “That’s when I started using actual words – peace and love – in several languages.”

 Since 1995 Jeong-Ae Ju has been coming to Sottevile-lès-Rouen on a regular basis, where she works in the artists’ studios in the George Néel building. “I love sharing this creative space; it’s great to be able to talk and exchange impressions with the other artists.”

 Roses inspire an art project

 Jeong-Ae Ju is currently working on a project based on the rose, a flower that, to her, symbolizes peace and love.

 The flower has a history rich in symbolism. In the 1960s and ‘70s, young Americans created ‘flower power’ to convey messages of love and peace in a non-violent movement based in environmentalism, humanitarianism, and pacifism that had a major impact on music and art.

 “I link that history to Zen and Taoist influences,” the artist says. “The fleeting nature of all things is also a metaphor for life that is not eternal, but that artists – through their work, be it photography, painting or other media – fix in time.”

 The project, a rose garden dedicated to flower children, will include child Buddhas in meditation surrounded by real roses and images and sculptures of roses. “The garden represents the life cycle, and the importance of living in the present,” says Jeong-Ae Ju.