"Gods and Monsters: Works by Viola Frey" was originally scheduled for April 4-May 24, 2020 at the American University (AU) Museum at the Katzen Arts Center before it was cancelled by the Coronavirus pandemic.
The exhibition was curated by Squeak Carnwath, co-founder of the Artists' Legacy Foundation, a unique organization that stewards the work, archives and wishes of select artist estates.
Viola Frey (1933 – 2004) was an American ceramic artist, painter and professor emerita at California College of the Arts. Active in the San Francisco Bay Area, she was renowned nationally for her large, colorful, figurative clay sculptures. In 1994, the James Renwick Alliance was able to purchase one of these exemplary pieces, Lady in Blue and Yellow Dress for the Renwick Gallery.
The exhibition at AU Museum focuses specifically on her early life which has been written about by art critic and artist, Mark Van Proyen, in the exhibition catalog that has been made available online.
On May 21, the Foundation was able to host their first online webinar in collaboration with American University. The event included AU Musuem Director, Jack Rassmusseun; Julia Schwartz, Director of Administration and Development of the Artists' Legacy Foundation; critic Mark Van Proyen; and curator Squeak Carnwath.
The speakers reflected on the life of Viola Frey and the exhibition that was set to take place. It is here that Proyen compared the early works featured in the show, as “ritual artifacts” as opposed to her later works that are filled with bold colors and statements about the American family dynamic.
Frey was an artist who was deeply committed to her work until her last days. The video featured below from 2004, the year of her passing, shows her remarkable dedication.