A Man Named Pearl


So often, we hold ourselves back by deciding we’re not talented enough, or that our busy lives create too many obstacles for us to be creative or make what we want to make.

Or we try to make something we think is popular, hoping it will sell well and we can make a living being creative, but somehow, we find ourselves out of touch with what we really want to create or express.

Well, listening to NPR this weekend, I heard about a man named Pearl Fryer who made his art on his own terms and turned his South Carolina yard into a living sculpture garden, and the art world (and everyone else) came to find him.

Pearl Fryer never studied art or considered himself an artist. His initial motivation to create a garden was to defy traditional bigotry in his neighborhood and win the coveted local “Yard of the Month” prize.

He went down to his local nursery to buy a two-ball topiary to be his starting point, but instead, the nursery owner gave him a three minute how-to lesson on cutting his own, and that started him collecting discarded plants and sculpting them.

Over the next two years, he developed his style and began transforming his property into an incredible abstract living sculpture garden.

He not only won “Yard of the Month”, but his abstract topiaries are now commissioned by museums and collectors, and the beauty he’s created has drawn visitors from all over–which in turn has ended up improving the local economy. Ah! Art can change the world.

His story was so inspiring that I had to look him up on the internet and find out more.

Below, I’ve inserted a trailer for a documentary of his work and garden, as well as another short video about his connection with a local college and art students. (If you’re reading this in an email, you’ll need to visit the site to view the videos.)

No Obstacles

Pearl Fryer is a role model for being willing to experiment, to listen to the work in front of you, and simply make what you feel compelled to make. He listened to his heart and made something beautiful. He expressed himself, transformed his space and improved his community by creating on his own terms.

Unencumbered by the rules of the local tastemakers about “good gardening” he made something great instead, something they couldn’t have dared or imagined. How often is the truth of what our hearts want to make smothered by our adherence to the perceived or prevailing rules of taste or trends in our own lives?

He must have worked for a long time on those trees before they transformed into the shapes he was imagining–they must have looked strange and plain and half done for a long time before that foliage filled in. It can be hard to have your unfinished work exposed to the world and its judgment. I’m glad he didn’t care, because if he did, we wouldn’t have this incredible final product to enjoy.

What would you make if, as they say, you were sure you would not fail?

If we carry that thought an important step further, who would we be and what would we do if the possibility of either success or failure was not even a consideration in what we decided to make, but instead we simply followed our intuition, made things that we needed to make, followed our inner creative desires and whims unconcerned by how it may be received, or by ideas of “good” and “bad”?

Documentary DVD

I’d love to see his garden in person someday, but since I’m not sure when that will happen, I ordered the documentary about his life and garden from Amazon this morning. I can’t wait to watch it. If you want to check it out, just click here.

If you’re not sure if you should buy it because you don’t think you’ll watch it more than once or twice, why not buy it, watch it, and then give it to your local high school art teacher afterwards, so she can to show her students an inspiring example of  creating from the heart. I’m sure she’d be thrilled.

Share your thoughts about this video, Pearl Fryer’s work, or about following your heart in the comments section below–I’d love to hear from you.

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Categories : Art, Inspiration, Videos

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