The Racine Art Museum and the Gardiner Museum, Toronto, are pleased to announce the first major exhibition of artist Viola Frey’s work since her death in 2004. Bigger, Better, More features Frey’s colossal clay figures, as well as a selection of her paintings and ceramic plates. After closing in Racine on August 16, 2009, this exhibition will travel to the Gardiner Museum, Toronto, from September 10, 2009 through January 10, 2010; the Museum of Arts and Design, New York, from February 3 through May 30, 2010; and the Arkansas Arts Center, Little Rock, from August 13 through November 28, 2010.
Interested in art at an early age, Viola Frey often grumbled about growing up in the farming town of Lodi, California due to her perceived lack of encouragement and exposure to art. Yet, it is her family and their struggle to make ends meet on their grape farm that actually shaped her aesthetic and approach to art. Her grandmothers represented the kind of strong, independent women Frey admired. Also, her mother was often the inspiration behind her powerful ceramic female figures.
Frey often created bricolages, which are collage-like clay assemblages. In these sculptures, inspiration came from objects found or purchased at flea markets that were seen as junk to others, but had meaning to her. Nonetheless, she is best known for her brilliantly colored, literally larger-than-life ceramic figures, ranging up to 12 feet tall, that she created later in her career.
This retrospective at RAM features her works on loan from the collections of major American museums, such as: The Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, Florida; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.