Images of North Africa in revolt are widespread these days, but for viewers unfamiliar with the histories, languages, and symbols of the complex cultures that lie between the Straits of Gibraltar and the Red Sea, the events unfolding against those backdrops may seem incomprehensible.

Art by Gwen Fryer
Petra by Gwendolyn Fryer
Freedom #2. Mixed Media

The adjectives “exotic,” “mysterious,” “poignant,” and “tender” describe the constructions of artist Gwendolyn Fryer. An American who grew up in Libya, Ms. Fryer creates delicate, multi-media collages, bold painted canvases, and sculpture comprised of found architectural elements and industrial salvage. All her pieces are rich with references to Islamic ornament. Shapes and patterns from traditional North African and Middle Eastern jewelry, woodwork, and ceramics are juxtaposed with musical notations, X-ray film, and Arabic newsprint.

Behind the billowing smoke and current turmoil in the Islamic world are societies whose artistic vocabularies have been articulated for centuries. Ms. Fryer taps those and invites us into realms that transcend politics, places where we need no translator.

Ms. Fryer’s work has been widely exhibited; two pieces from her aptly titled “Freedom Series” are currently on tour in the Sultanate of Oman.

Gwendolyn Fryer’s private gallery, garden, and eclectically furnished home (see map link at bottom) will be open this weekend, one stop on the self-guided tour of homes of Sarasota artists, March 11th & 12th, 10 AM – 4 PM each day. Artists’ work will be offered for sale.

Proceeds from this 40th Annual Creators & Collectors tour will benefit the Fine Arts Society of Sarasota. For ticket purchase locations, tour map, and additional information, please see: or call 941-330-0680.

Click here for a preview of Ms Fryer’s home/gallery. Her own website, features more examples of her work.

Map with directions to Ms. Fryer’s home/studio.

Comments are closed.