Maya Beaudry’s show Molding Between at the non-profit art space Ashley Berlin is a fascinating exploration of interiority and domesticity. Through collages, patchwork upholstery, fabrics and woven sculptures, the show imagines a domestic space in which mold would be welcomed, nurtured and encouraged.
Maya Beaudry is a mixed-media artist (b. 1988 Vancouver), working mainly with sculpture and installations, whose work revolves around architecture and the concept of home. Alongside her show in Berlin, she is also completing a residency at the contemporary arts organization Triangle in Marseille, France, till December 2017.
We caught up with the Canadian artist while she was in Berlin to discuss her new show, her interest in architecture, her future projects and her obsession with the number 53.
Audrey Kadjar: For the exhibition’s description, you wrote a one-page short story about a fictional character that considers mold as a reassuring presence and fosters its growth in her house. How does fiction inform your artistic work?
Maya Beaudry: I was really into the idea of a single page short story that could fit on one page because it was sort of playing by the same rules as a painting: it was existing within one rectangle and you could consume it in a few minutes.
I noticed at school a lot of people were making work referencing literature but it was a difficult thing where if you hadn’t read the book they were referencing, you couldn’t go all the way in so I thought what if I just wrote the text and then I could offer it up along the work and then all the references would be sort of understood.
So I did it as a personal thing at first, as a way to generate images basically, and I was maybe too nervous to put it alongside it and then I thought I’d try it this time.
AK: How did you become interested in mold and how does it relate to your own approach to architecture?
MB: I was really obsessed with corners, particularly the place where three planes meet, as something that I thought held a lot of power in the room.
As I was thinking more and more about the way stuff moves through the room, I started to think about what accumulates in corners.
I was thinking a lot about traditional women’s work, as a woman your job is to keep other forms of life out of your structure to make it maybe better for the types of life that you want to bring in.
I was sort of playing with the idea of what if you had a mold garden, what would that look like.
AK: How did you choose which material you were going to work with for the show?
MB: In my mind, it’s all textile work and I think I’ve always felt comfortable with fabric. In my undergrad it was something that I was maybe encouraged away from as a medium because it was not serious enough or something… and then I came back to it and appreciated it.
It’s a really amazing thing to work with, fabric in particular because it can go from the 2D to the 3D so fast, so it can be a composition and then it can be a material right after or you can have both of those things happening at once.
During grad school, I was building a lot and I was thinking of upholstery in particular as this beautiful synthesis of structure and softness: it needs to have structure to hold you, but then it needs to be soft for you to be on it.
The photo prints on fabric were really exciting to me because I could make something on the computer and then print it onto fabric and then use the fabric and that seemed to have so much potential.
AK: The works in the exhibition seem to gradually expand into the gallery’s space. Is there a main curatorial thread or do you see the works as separate entities?
MB: It could feel much more like one entity, as this whole show could have been in a space much smaller and fill it up. As soon as you put something in a frame, it’s its own world and it can exist that way so I’m also interested in each one being its own structure; each one doesn’t have to be informed by its neighbor but they are definitely related.
AK: How does this exhibition relate to the rest of your work?
MB: The show in Marseille will be largely the same work; it’s going to be in a much smaller space, so I’m going to push this sort of fullness of it.
I think, in a lot of ways, I’ve been working on the same ideas for quite a while and feeling each time that I dive back into the work that I’m a little bit unsatisfied with the last exploration of it. It’s not like I want to put things aside and try something new but I want to try again, I want to do it in a different way.
I think that my work before was more concerned with making architectures in a different way and this was maybe a desire not so much to make the space but work with the space. I recycle a lot of material too… the maintaining of the materials can be very generative and have a lot of ideas within it and I like that there are a lot of little connecting threads.
I try to be true to these ideas and go as deep into them as I can and each time some new ideas come into it and it can grow.
AK: Could you expand on the ideas of gender and domesticity that the show evokes?
MB: A lot of this work starts from my mother’s death: it was in 2009, she was jogging outside my family home in the forest and she was killed. It was a huge thing in my life. I went to art school right after that so I think I was really searching for ways to deal with that and acknowledge it in a way that I could keep it close to me but I felt very afraid of addressing it outright, in school in particular because it felt unsafe to be putting something so personal out.
So I was sort of working around it. She was very into this book called A Pattern Language, which is an alternative 70’s architecture manifesto and I started using that and I was really thinking about buildings and homes. I wasn’t even thinking about the gendered dimension of it until fairly recently or until CalArts where people were trying to pull that part out of it.
I think the act of motherhood is an act of home building: bringing new life into the world involves making a space around it. Cleanliness is a concept that we’ve been imbued with and maybe it could be reimagined: what if you would do the opposite and cultivate these growths, what if you would encourage them to come into your house.
I think that managing a home, for anyone of any gender, is this experience of limiting growth.
AK: What are your future projects?
MB: I have one more month in Marseille and I’ll do a show there, I’m not sure what I’ll do after that. I also have a project with my partner: we’ve built a cabin last year on an island and we really want to expand it, maybe in a small residency.
On the Studio Sunday event at Ashley [on Sunday November 19], I’ll talk about A Pattern Language: there are 253 patterns in total that go through different ways of structuring urban space. It’s really interesting to be in Europe and think about these things because I think it has a lot to do with the crisis of the new world, the imposition of new cities onto a place, especially in the American west coast, things are done for efficiency and not for good comfort. I think that was an attempt to change some of those things and unfortunately, contemporary architecture has sort of twisted some of this stuff, but it’s a really inspiring text.
I’ve been reading this book for so long that so much of this work is related to it so when the time came to do the titles of the works, I thought “I’ll just pick patterns”. It’s fun because it’s numbers too and I have this number superstition: if you have a connection to a number, you can open it up to that one and see what it is.
My superstition for the number 53 comes from a sort of game I developed with my mother when I was a kid and then she died three days after her 53rd birthday. That was almost too crazy for me and I stop thinking about it and then couples of years ago, I started to nurture it again in some way.
I sort of collect 53s and I know that for a lot of them, I make them happen because I look for it but it’s a sort of game: if something is significant to you, you want to follow it, and it’s kind of arbitrary but it’s also fun.
Written by Audrey Kadjar.
Maya Beaudry, Molding Between is on view from 10 to 20 November, 2017 at Ashley Berlin (Berlin, Germany).
All images copyright graysc.de, courtesy the author.