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Online Event | Cutting up Bushes: The Art of Pearl Fryar

We're pleased to offer this event as part of our online Public Programme

The John Michael Kohler Arts Center’s Art Preserve (Sheboygan, Wisconsin) is the world’s first museum dedicated to the preservation of artist built environments.

Join Lisa Stone, educator at The Art Preserve and Abra Lee, founder of Conquer the Soil, as they discuss the role gardens have played within the framework of artist built environments, and the influential stories of Black American gardens.

The first half of the event will focus on the garden of Pearl Fryer, a self-taught topiary artist living in Bishopville, South Carolina. Fryar was born a sharecropper’s son in small town Clinton, North Carolina in 1939. He worked for ten years in New York with American National Can Company. He was then transferred to Bishopville where he finally put down his roots.  In the early 1980s, Fryar began developing his 2 acre yard, in an effort to win “Yard of the Month” from the local garden club. He developed a passion for topiary and began to grow living sculptures on his property and in 1985 he won Yard of the Month all the while honing his style and technique and expanding his garden.

The second half will open the conversation up to the work of the Art Preserve, the role gardens have played and continue to play within self-taught artistic practice and the artist built gardens that risk being lost.


  • Lisa Stone

    Lisa Stone

    Lisa Stone is a senior lecturer in the Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), where she earned a Master of Science in Historic Preservation. Her research, teaching, writing, and curating concern the preservation and interpretation of artist-built environments and the realms of non-mainstream art. She currently consults as an educator at the John Michael Kohler Art Center’s Art Preserve, in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Her studio is a garden/ruin in Spring Lake, Wisconsin.

  • Abra Lee

    Abra Lee

    Abra Lee is a speaker, writer, and founder of Conquer the Soil a community that combines history, art, fashion and culture to raise awareness of ornamental horticulture. She has spent a whole lotta time in the dirt as a municipal arborist, extension agent, airport landscape manager, and more. Lee is a graduate of Auburn University College of Agriculture and an alumna of the Longwood Gardens Society of Fellows, a global network of public horticulture professionals.

Image: Jessica Lowrey