"I'm a modern surrealist artist who utilizes and explores combinations of artistic media. As a child, I experienced the horrors of war in Syria and later lived through radical religious rule in Saudi. It's these memories and my gratitude for my life today that motivate me to paint, draw, and create."
Born in Syria just before the outbreak of the civil war, Ayla Fowles bore witness to the suffering and injustice inflicted by the oppressive regime in her homeland. In her formative years, her father courageously secured safe passage to Saudi Arabia for Ayla and their family, narrowly escaping a bombing that targeted their home shortly after their departure. However, the transition to Saudi Arabia brought its own set of challenges as she found herself living under stringent religious laws, restricting her freedom as a woman and dictating her public attire.
Living in Saudi Arabia took a toll on Ayla's once moderate family as they became more radicalized, causing her to feel increasingly disconnected from them. During her teenage years, she sought solace in her room, yearning for any semblance of freedom, which she discovered through her artistic endeavors. Art became Ayla's means of self-expression, and she honed her skills over the years while patiently awaiting an opportunity for change.
That opportunity materialized when she pursued a degree in architecture in Dubai. This not only offered her a chance to express herself creatively but also marked the first time since leaving Syria that she could taste a semblance of freedom. Moreover, Ayla's decision to study architecture resonated with her parents, who shared a background in the field, thus winning their approval.
While studying in Dubai, Ayla encountered her future husband, prompting her to make the life-altering decision to escape her past and embark on a new journey in Australia. In this newfound land, she relishes the freedom to express herself and live with dignity. Ayla dedicates her time to drawing and painting, channeling her experiences of the past and dreams for the future into her art.
Now residing in Australia, Ayla aims to share the narrative of her youth, demonstrating how positive outcomes can emerge from adversity. Her art serves as a medium to tell stories of resilience and transformation, shedding light on issues close to her heart and showcasing things she finds profoundly meaningful—or just incredibly cool.
This review was published by Circle Foundation for the Arts © CFA Press ∙ Images are courtesy of the artist