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Viola Frey


circa late 1950's

3.5 x 16.5 x 16.5 in.
Gift of Richard A. Harrison

In the postwar period, studio pottery was a local alternative to mass-produced wares. Handmade vessels, such as Bowl, were valued for their intimate pleasures. When the renowned English ceramist Bernard Leach published A Potter’s Book in 1940, he inspired a new generation of studio potters in the United States. Bowl, an early work by Viola Frey, exemplifies Leach’s combination of English and Japanese sensibilities through its elegant shape and asymmetrical surface design.

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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