Spiritual impression in Floral art
Mae Jeon is a digital fine artist whose love for flowers tugs on the fundamental chords that weave throughout her artwork. Her compositional treatment of motifs, colors, and other inherent qualities are guided by her intuition. She also finds great inspiration from her reflective time in meditation and spiritual reading.
Her first encounter with digital art was in the early 2000s. She was working as a graphic designer in New York and was mesmerized by the seemingly limitless possibilities that digital software could offer art creation. Her discovery aroused such a deep passion in her that she immediately began experimenting with digital techniques on subjects such as abstraction,
portraits of women, still life, and landscapes.
“One day, a red tulip with sharp, serrated edges along its petals was the focus of all my
attention,” says Mae, “In my mind’s eye, the flower embodied the anguish I was feeling at the time.”
With this powerful insight, she decided to photograph the flower and create an abstract background to express her emotions.
The fragility, delicateness, mystical beauty, and brief existence were all features of flowers she recognized in humans. With this insight, she realized that flowers represented the perfect subject for the emotional and spiritual topics she felt compelled to express through her digital work.
In 2000, Mae showed one of her works at the juried digital art exhibition ‘Digital Dimension’, in New York. The following year, she showed eight of her digital works in a three-person exhibition at Nexus Gallery, New York. Some three years later, she retired from her commercial art career. However, never one to stand still, in this same year, she had her first solo digital media show at Spoke the Hub Re:Creation Center, Brooklyn, New York.
Since that time, she has continued to exhibit her digital art, mainly in New York and Florida, but also in various locations abroad. Indeed, Mae has never stopped in her pursuit of exploring the digital medium as a way to create floral themes in her work.
Mae was born in Seoul, Korea, as the second child of eight siblings. Her mother was a nurse and a devout Christian, and her father was a chemical engineer and an inventor of a special dye. Both her parents grew up in the same rural farming village and received education in big cities.
After marrying, they lived in Seoul until the Korean War began, when Mae was just three years old. Her family was evacuated, and together they escaped to Busan city, at the very south of the country, where they lived until the War had ceased. Her family then returned to Seoul some three years later, when Mae was six.
Mae’s parents rented a house that was one part of a much larger traditional Korean house built during the Lee Dynasty of old Korea. Not too far from the house was the King’s Palace (Kyung-Bok Gung), and the adjacent building was the Japanese Ministry of Colonial Affairs, which was surrounded by sprawling grass fields. Mae fondly remembers her time growing up there, a time of sneaking between the gaps in the stone post fence with friends to play in the fields, happily making bracelets and rings with clover flowers.
As she grew older, nature continued to fill her life. She went to elementary school near Sam-chung Park Loop, Seoul, and every morning she walked beside the flowing streams to her school. In fifth grade, her family moved to a new house near the Han River, Seoul. She fondly remembers her new home with its spacious garden overflowing with many kinds of flowers and fruit trees. Her grandfather also grew medicinal plants in the garden to store in his medicine chest.
Watercolor painting filled her heart at just 12 years old, when a private tutor taught her this art form with a friend who also loved art. However, Mae’s passion for art was fully ignited when she received an art book collection containing paintings of the world’s master artists, which her father bought back from a trip to Japan. She was completely captivated by each artist’s work, especially the paintings of Degas and Monet, and used soft pastels to copy many of those that particularly moved her. With that, her head was full of dreams of being a great artist someday.
In high school, she joined the student art workshop and religiously stayed after school for daily practice in watercolor, oil painting, and charcoal drawing.
She also painted still life at home, and her mother provided her with a corner space in the living room to set up her easel. However, as time passed and the artworks accumulated, she was allowed to use the barn: her first art studio. For the several years that followed prior to her marriage, she spent many happy hours creating oil paintings in her studio.
Mae earned a bachelor’s degree in graphic design in 1971 from Hong-ik University in Seoul. After graduating, she lived in Tokyo, Japan, for 14 months in the role of a designer intern at Shiseido, a prestigious cosmetics company. While in Tokyo, she took the opportunity to regularly visit galleries around the offices in Ginza during her lunch hour. She was thrilled to be exposed to so many styles of art and was especially inspired by the surreal art at the Kozo Mio solo exhibition.
In fact, it was the surreal oil painting depicting a simple square box with a partial body of a person, a lemon, and curled paper that inspired her to create several oil paintings of human-shaped landscapes. Subsequently, she worked in mixed media on boards and exhibited at her first solo show at the Korean culture center in Tokyo in 1972.
Mae said, “I think the surreal art image of Kozo Mio still influences my creation to this day.”
She later returned to her homeland and to Seoul, where she worked with a cosmetic company to design packages, advertorials, posters, and catalogs and created illustrations for the company magazine. While working as a designer, she also received her master’s degree in advertising art from Hong-ik University in 1976.
Mae Jeon immigrated to the USA in the summer of 1976 with her husband, two years after they had married. She lived in Cleveland, Ohio, for nine months before she felt compelled to make a short trip to New York to seek a job in her beloved field of art. After two weeks and several interviews, she was hired as a staff designer at the Topps, known for sports cards and bubble gum. She worked on the design and illustration of card products and packages for over 20 years while raising her two sons.
“Digital art led me to rediscover my childhood dream of being a fine artist,” says Mae, “I owe a great deal of gratitude to this technology.”
She always strives to achieve the highest artistic quality in each piece by making the best use of current digital technology. Over the last decade, she has even delved into divine contexts, portraying flowers in a spiritual atmosphere.
In 2018, Mae had her ninth solo digital art exhibition in a gallery in Chelsea, New York, showcasing digital art on metal circles. Mae Jeon is a certified artist of the Museum of the Americas in Florida, and she has collaborated with many shows and publications with the museum for the past 15 years.
Mae’s digital work has also been exhibited in numerous galleries, museum shows, and art fairs in New York and Miami, as well as the Biennale shows held in Italy: Florence 2005, Chianciano 2013, and Venice 2019.
She has also won numerous awards in her career. She received the Works on Paper Award at the
131st annual exhibition of the National Association of Women Artists in 2020 and the First Prize award in the Woman in Art show at Impulse Arts Inc. in Houston in 2017. She also received the 2010 California award of Latino America Museum, Ontario, CA, and the Best Work Prize in the 2012 International Monoprint show at the Museum of Americas.
In 2014, she moved from Heartland Village, Staten Island, where she started her digital art, working in
a corner of her living room. Currently, Mae works from her home art studio, a place that she fell in love with the moment she first saw it. It is located near the south shore of Staten Island, just a short drive from the Outer bridge Crossing from New Jersey.
She is grateful to God for every moment and aims to live in a way that honors this sentiment.
She thinks being an artist is the utmost privilege and also a calling to serve by beautifying the world. Mae hopes to create meaningful artwork that represents her journey of digital expression within the field of art. Her greatest passion is for her creativity to spread hope and light through her artistic images.