Interview: Katherine Bernhardt of Magic Flying Carpets

Just before Christmas, I read about an art show in New York Magazine at CANADA Gallery by artist Katherine Bernhardt.  I am so happy that we made the effort to catch it on it’s last day– otherwise, I might not have come across this amazing display of color and texture.  The gallery set up a souk, an indoor market full of Magic Flying Carpets that Katherine imported from Morocco. Carpets covered every surface and we were invited to take off our shoes and explore a room full of incredible works of art.

Below Katherine tells us a little about her relationship to these inspiring pieces.




 

 

 

 

 

W+C: When did your relationship with Morocco start? And what about it resonated with you?

KB: I first went to Morocco when I was 15 years old. I went to the town of Tetouan in the north. The place totally blew my mind. The camels, the Arabic language, the colors, and souks, the medina, and being attacked by ants at night in the camp ground was an eye opener too. I didn’t get back for 20 years…when I did return, it was as awesome as I remembered.

W+C: How has it influenced your work as a painter?

KB: The textiles for one are amazing, the color combinations in the carpets, and the henna stained wool, the hand painted signage everywhere. The craftsmanship of everything around you there is highly skilled and detailed and amazing. The carpets are a major influence on my painting at the moment. I have been making painitings from their designs.

one of Katherine’s paintings inspired by her Magic Flying Carpets at Salon 94 in NYC.

W+C: When you go to Morocco, where do you spend most of your time and what do you do?

KB: Most of the time we (my husband and baby) travel around, go to the small villages and look for carpets, or go to my husband’s village of Erfoud and hang out there at some awesome hotel with a pool.

 

W+C: Are there any must sees that you would recommend to travelers? Markets? Local dishes? Specific towns?

KB: You have to go to the old medina of Fez, and Chefchouen, the blue town; and to Merzouga the desert in the south. I would say go to to the villages in the Atlas Mountains, and then there is a town called Hdida which is my favorite. It looks like a mud village in the grand canyon. Its an amazing place.

W+C: Tell us a little about Magic Flying Carpets.

KB: “Magic Flying Carpets of The Berber Kingdom Of Morocco” is the company that I have started to import rugs here to the USA from Morocco. We buy direct from nomads, cave people, and small villages. We try and get the best carpets that we see. We travel all over Morocco to find awesome rugs.

 

 

W+C: Is your home full of Moroccan rugs? And tell us what you love about them.

KB: Yes my house is full… the entire living room is full of carpets to the ceiling. I love the texture, the warmth they bring, the colors, and the crazy patterns and symbols in them.

W+C: What do you look for when you are buying carpets? Quality, color, uniqueness?

KB: I look for totally unique works of art.

 

W+C: Do you have a favorite style of Moroccan rug?

KB: Right now I love the Boucherouite….rag rug style.

 

W+C: Who makes the rugs and what relationship do you have with them?

KB: Only women weave. I have met and am friends with several weavers there. They are artists.


 

W+C: What is your style when you travel in Morocco? Do you change your personal style to adapt to the culture?

KB: I dress up in the traditional costume. Its fun, because each region and town has its own costume, so I have many different looks. We also sit on the floor, and eat with our hands.

W+C: When you travel what can you not leave home with out? What are your must-haves?

KB: To Morocco, I would say take some medicine, because you are going to get sick. Besides that, just basic things tooth brush, soap… and a camera of course! I like to leave everything behind when I go, and forget about my life here. Forget about the phone calls, and the bills, and just be free for a while.

W+C: If you could go anywhere next week, where would you go and why?

KB: I’m dying to go to Mexico, I have only been to Mexico City, but would love to go and explore other areas. I want to go to Tulum, and Acalpulco, and other beautiful places.

W+C: Thanks Katherine!

Buy Katherine’s Magic Flying Carpets at www.magicflyingcarpets.com and see her work at Canada Gallery in NYC.

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