The art of friendship

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by Sayaka Matsuoka

YoungDoo Carey and Marnie Weigel have at least one thing in common with famous artists like Salvador Dalí and Man Ray or Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol who came before them: a close friendship that enhances their art.

The two Greensboro artists initially met at Deep Roots Market, where Carey works part time, almost a year ago and have been inseparable ever since.

“I noticed her right away when she came up to my register because she was wearing this cute knitted hat,” Carey said about Weigel.

Three months later when the two met at Deep Roots again, they made a knitting date. From then on, the two would congregate weekly in Carey’s intimate apartment just down the street from the neighborhood co-op to knit and drink tea.

Although both have strong backgrounds in visual art, their disciplines couldn’t be more different. And that, in a sense, is why their collaboration works.

Carey, who was born and raised in South Korea, boasts a background in photography and graphic design. She thrives in strong, design-driven work like calligraphy, photography, digital design and painting. She currently does freelance work for organizations like 1808 magazine and the Greensboro Children’s Museum. For her, art is about the marriage of colors and composition, and seeing things the way they are.

Carey moved to Greensboro from Vancouver after being in school and working there in the fall of 2012 after marrying her husband, who is a native of the city. Part of the appeal of working at Deep Roots was the chance to get to know the surrounding community, which at first proved challenging because of Carey’s introverted nature. But she found she was able to connect to Weigel with ease.

Weigel has a similar personality. She finds solace in her medium: pottery. She moved to Greensboro in 2001 after teaching elementary school in Asheville. She has sold pieces at Just Be on Elm Street downtown, but now she is taking a pottery sabbatical as she looks for a new space for her studio.

The duo’s collaboration Moon & Ocean is a merging of both of their backgrounds to create symbiotic works of art.

The title of the joint project combines each of their names: YoungDoo’s maiden name “Moon” and the Latin root of Marnie’s name, “Ocean.”

Moon & Ocean began in January 2014 and the pair aimed to create six works of art each — for a total of 12 — to sell on their website each month, sometimes working together to create one large project.

“We get inspiration from the same things,” Weigel said. “We see beauty in the small things whether it be a leaf or a single flower.”

Their creations have covered a wide array of media including clay pendant necklaces molded by Weigel, crocheted wrist warmers or knit mittens, and larger works like photographic woodblock prints of Kyoto that Carey took on her honeymoon.

But the most impressive project that they’ve created sits on a shelf in Carey’s apartment.

Past Moon & Ocean projects like the tea bowls and photographic woodblock prints line the shelf in Carey’s apartment. (Sayaka Matsuoka)
Past Moon & Ocean projects like the tea bowls and photographic woodblock prints line the shelf in Carey’s apartment. (Sayaka Matsuoka)

Five dainty, white, ceramic tea bowls designed with deep-blue geometric patterns line up against a wall in Carey’s living room. Three, which were sold mostly in person to family and friends, are missing from the bunch. Not only were these bowls — that have matching plates — the most time consuming of their projects, they were also the most eye-opening.

Weigel threw the plates and tea bowls while Carey left her mark through the graphic designs she skillfully hand-painted onto each piece. The project took six weeks to complete with hours of research on types of glaze and designs going into the process. For Weigel, it was remarkable to watch Carey paint each of the designs onto her pieces with precision while Carey realized a newfound appreciation for the practice of pottery.

Sitting in Carey’s bright, minimalist living room, the two couldn’t say enough about each other. At one point, Weigel complimented Carey’s design skills, which touched Carey so much she had to shyly wipe tears away.

“You’re so nice,” Carey laughed. “I feel like I should hide.”

While their works exhibit each of their creative backgrounds, the real foundation of their partnership is their harmonious, incidental friendship.

“I love it when we get to work together,” Weigel said.

“We’re a big fan of each other’s work,” Carey added.

Visit moonocean.bigcartel.com to view or purchase their work.