Shems Friedlander, chairman of the Sony Gallery’s International Advisory Board, has pursued a distinguished career as a designer, educator, academic, poet, filmmaker, and photographer, through all of which activities and interests runs the thread of a profound and abiding interest in the arts of the Middle East and in Sufism.
Over his many years as a designer in New York, Friedlander has worked on magazines, record album covers, and books, winning 30 New York Art Directors Club awards, including a coveted Silver Award for Anatomy of a Cloud, on the work of the artist Paul Jenkins.
His own writings include a collection of poetry, Sunlight, Poems and Other Words (Safina Books, Cairo, 1997), with Nuri Friedlander, an account of the mystic poet Jalaluddin Rumi, The Whirling Dervishes (Macmillan, New York, 1975), and, most recently, Rumi, The Hidden Treasure (Fons Vitae, Louisville, 2001 and Archetype, London, 2001). Among his published articles-often also designed by Friedlander or illustrated with his own photographs-are “The Dream of Hassan Fathy” for Geo magazine, on the Egyptian architect’s New Mexico mosque, “Typography,” a look at the parallels and differences between English and Arabic typography for Digital Press Magazine (Cairo, Vol.2, Issue 4, 1998), and “Debating Qadhafi: Satellite TV Challenges Convention,” with Professor Leonard Ray Teel, for Middle East Insight Magazine (March-April, 1999).
Friedlander’s additional interests include photography (he has illustrated a number of his articles and held exhibitions in New York and Cairo, including The Garden of the Dervishes, as part of AUC’s February 2002 Rumi Festival), drawing and painting, and, most recently, filmmaking. He completed the documentary Rumi, the Wings of Love in early 2001 and received the first Sony Video Filmmaker Award for the film, which he wrote and directed, in a ceremony at the 8th Cairo Radio & TV Festival Exhibition; the film was an official selection for both the Parabola (San Francisco 2001) and Damah (Seattle fall 2002) film festivals.
Friedlander first came to AUC in 1992, having also taught at the Parsons School of Design, New York as Professor of Editorial Communication, Advertising and Design (1987-88). After directing a number of workshops on editorial communication, design, and desktop publishing, he was appointed Senior Lecturer in Journalism and Mass Communication in 1994, at the same time founding the AUC’s Apple Center for Graphic Communications with a $200,000 grant from Apple Computers Inc., and he continues to hold these posts. He is also consultant to the AUC Press Design Center.