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Viola Frey


Standing Woman (Woman with Hands Over Heart)

Stoneware, mounted on a black painted steel base
97 x 30 x 24 in. (246.38 x 76.2 x 60.96 cm)
Gift of the Nora Eccles Treadwell Foundation

Standing Woman (Woman/Hand Over Heart) comes from an important moment in Frey’s career when she was experimenting with techniques that emphasized the surface in dramatic ways. Frey used the large figure as a kind of armature for her painting and drawing. In this piece she applied color and texture in ways that resemble the work of Bay Area abstract expressionists, and figurative artists like Sonia Gechtoff and David Park. The resulting messy, gritty surface also evokes the early work of San Francisco Bay Area artists Joan Brown and Jay De Feo.

Frey was born in Lodi, California, in 1933. At CCAC, she earned her BFA, studying painting with Richard Diebenkorn and ceramics with Vernon Coykendall and Charles Fiske. In 1956–57 she worked with Mark Rothko and George Rickey at Tulane University in New Orleans. After a sojourn in New York, Frey returned to the Bay Area in 1960, where she taught color and light classes in the CCAC painting department. She became a full-time ceramics professor, and was an influential faculty member until her retirement in 1999. Frey is considered by many to be one of the most important female ceramic artists of the late twentieth century.

Bolton Colburn
Sara Morris

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