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Viola Frey Portrait

Viola Frey

Lodi, California 1933

Oakland, California 2004

Active in:

  • Oakland, California

Photo Caption:
Courtesy Chris at Nancy Hoffman Gallery.

Luce Artist Quote

"I found . . . that I needed to make art to survive." The artist, quoted in Jana, Viola Frey, 1998

Luce Artist Biography

As a child growing up in the vineyards of Lodi, California, Viola Frey constructed miniature cities out of wet sand in irrigation ditches, only to turn on the water, flood her creations, and build them again (Jana, Viola Frey, 1998). Creating, breaking, and rebuilding remained central to her work as a professional artist. She spent her early career sculpting and painting small figurines, creating her first monumental clay figures in the early 1980s. The first two fell over and shattered, so she began to cut the works into multiple pieces, fire them separately, and put them back together as if the sculptures were three-dimensional jigsaw puzzles. She was so committed to her work that she continued to sculpt even after suffering a series of strokes that left her barely able to walk or speak.