Viola Frey

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Viola Frey was an American ceramics artist who was known first and foremost for her larger than life sculptures. Viola’s purpose behind these giant figures was to show the world (mainly the art world) that there was more to sculpting clay than small figures, bowls, and cups. In the 1960s and 70s a group of artists, including Viola Frey, wanted to create ceramics as a effective form of art. This movement was called the “Revolution in Clay”. Before this movement the standard of the art of clay was revolved around smaller scale pieces and objects like bowls, vases, and cups. This “standard” left the ceramics division of art in the dark, and it wasn’t something that people wanted to get into because it didn’t seem too challenging or exciting. The people involved in this revolution used different ways to overcome this expectation or standard. They began using new techniques in order to push the typical size scale of sculptures up. They discovered new methods for constructing, firing, and glazing that changed the department of ceramics completely. For example, Viola Frey, along with the other artist that changed the department of ceramics, introduced the idea of building in pieces and using a scaffold on the inside of the figure to hold the entire piece together. Frey struggled when it came to making her pieces because she was old and had some physical limitations. Her assistant of 17 years, Sam Perry, helped her put her crazy ideas together and help the construction process when she couldn’t do it. Her physical limitations were never an excuse for her not being able to build these larger than life sculptures. Her time spent in her studio when she was busy coming up with new ideas and constructing her pieces helped her forget about her physical setbacks, and kept her chugging along. Frey’s sculptures exceeded the size expectations in the clay world. Each of her pieces stood no shorter than 10 feet tall and weighed thousands of pounds. In order to build her figures,...
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