Viola Frey was born in Lodi, California. She began her formal studies in art at Stockton Delta College in Stockton, CA (1952-3) thereafter she transferred to the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland where she received her B.A. degree in 1956. While there Frey majored in painting under Richard Diebenkorn. Two years later she earned a M.F.A. degree from Tulane University, in New Orleans. She then returned to the San Francisco Bay area where she continued to evolve monumental figural sculpture that has had enormous influence in the ceramic arts of this country. She makes her figures with hollow-building techniques and fires them in sectional firings. Her sculpture represents larger than life realist figures with complex multicolored glazes on white ware. She is also known for large-scale chargers or platters for gallery display, filled with colorful objects simulated in clay.
She was an assemblage artist who used found objects to incorporate or inform her works in unusual and expressively personal ways. For a list of selected solo and group exhibitions see Directions in Contemporary American Ceramics, Museum of Fine Boston, 1984. Frey’s sculptural ceramic objects are represented in major museums and collections worldwide.
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