Viola Frey is born on August 15, 1933, in Lodi, California. She is raised on her family’s vineyard and attends Lodi High School, graduating in 1951.


Senior class portrait, Lodi High Today yearbook, Lodi, California, 1951 1952-1953

Accepts admission to University of California Berkeley for writing, but then changes her mind at the last minute. She attends Stockton Delta College in Stockton, California, with an interest in teaching art at the college level.



Receives a scholarship to study at California College of Arts and Crafts (CCAC) in Oakland, California. Frey studies painting under Richard Diebenkorn, and takes classes in ceramics under Vernon Coykendall and Charles Fiske.



Award winner, Second Prize in Sculpture for “Patio Planter,” ceramic vase, The Thirteenth Annual Pacific Coast Ceramic Exhibition, Rotunda Gallery, City of Paris, in San Francisco.



Receives undergraduate degree in painting, CCAC, Oakland, California.


Frey as a student in the California College of Arts and Crafts, Oakland, c. 1958 1955-1957

Studies graduate coursework in painting at Tulane University, in New Orleans, Louisiana. She studies under George Rickey, Katherine Choy, and visiting artist Mark Rothko.



Moves to Port Chester, New York, to work at the Clay Art Center with founder Katherine Choy. Frey supplements her income by working at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in the billing department of the business office.



Moves to 495 Francisco Street #D in San Francisco, California. Frey gets a job at Macy’s Department Store in the accounting department and continues to work there until 1970.



Award winner, California Crafts II, Creative Arts League of Sacramento, California.



E.B. Crocker Art Gallery in Sacramento is gifted “Noah’s Ark,” stoneware, which marks the first museum to collect Frey artwork.
Award winner for “Covered Jar,” reduction-fired ceramic, Stone Forms: Association of San Francisco Potters 12th Exhibition, M. H. de Young Memorial Museum, San Francisco.



Becomes a part-time Artist Potter in Residence, marking the beginning of her career at CCAC.
Purchase award for “Untitled,” stoneware vase, San Francisco Art Festival.


Viola Frey with her work in the exhibit <i>Ceramics by Viola Frey and Peter Layton</i> at Art Institute of Chicago, 1967. 1965

Purchases a Victorian house at 1335 Divisadero in San Francisco and converts the basement into her first studio.
Begins teaching a color and light class in the Painting Department at CCAC.



Becomes a visiting Assistant Professor in Advanced Ceramics for a summer course at Art Institute of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois.
Award winner for “Landscape #2,” oil on canvas, James D. Phelan Award.



Award winner for “Untitled (Brown Rim Plate with Fruit),” ceramic with glazes, Media ’68, Walnut Creek Civic Arts Gallery, Walnut Creek, California.


1970 Newspaper clipping announcing Viola Frey's residency at San Joaquin Delta College, Stockton, California, 1970.

Artist residency at San Joaquin Delta College (formerly Stockton Delta College) in Stockton, California.
Purchase award for “Pink Lady and Spotted Pig,” ceramic with glazes, San Francisco Art Festival.



Becomes a full-time assistant professor in Ceramics Department at CCAC.
Award winner for “Flying Duck,” hand-built earthenware with glazes and luster, Ceramic Statement 1971, Association of San Francisco Potters, M. H. de Young Memorial Museum, San Francisco.



The Noni Eccles Treadwell Ceramic Arts Center opens at CCAC, where Frey is integral in its planning.



Serves as Juror for the 27th Annual Art Festival hosted by the San Francisco Art Commission.



Moves to 663 Oakland Avenue in Oakland, where Frey begins working on larger ceramic sculptures outdoors in order to study the light and color of her artworks.



Casts her first series of bronze sculptures at the Walla Walla Foundry in Walla Walla, Washington.


Viola Frey giving a demonstration at California College of Arts and Crafts, Oakland, c. 1976. 1978

Artist residency at the CA 5 Ceramic Studio, Purdue University, in West Lafayette, Indiana.
Grant recipient, $7,500 Craftsmen’s Fellowship Grant, National Endowment for the Arts.



Panelist for The Ceramics Symposium 1979 at the Institute for Ceramic History, Los Angeles, California.



Panelist for the annual National Council for the Ceramic Arts conference in Ann Arbor, Michigan.



Frey’s first solo exhibition and retrospective is launched by the Creative Arts League of Sacramento and travels to multiple venues around the country.
The Minneapolis Institute of Art purchases “Double Grandmother,” ceramic with glazes, which marks Frey’s first major museum purchase.


Exhibition brochure produced for Viola Frey’s solo exhibition at The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 1984.


Panelist for California Sculptural Tradition: Figurative Sculpture at S/12 Twelfth International Sculpture Conference in Oakland, California.



Moves her studio to a 5,000 square foot warehouse at 1089 Third Street in West Oakland.



The Whitney Museum of American Art launches a solo exhibition of Frey’s monumental figures, plates, bricolage sculptures, and paintings.



Artist residency at Manufacture de Sèvres, in France, with Betty Woodman, Adrian Saxe, and James Caswell.
Featured artist in NCECA 1986 Exhibition, where Frey also gave a clay demonstration and presentation at the Southwest Craft Center in San Antonio, Texas.
Award of Honor for Sculpture, Arts Commission of San Francisco.
Grant recipient, $15,000 Artist Fellowship Grant, National Endowment for the Arts.


Betty Woodman and Viola Frey in residency at Manufacture de Sèvres, France, 1986. Photo credit: C. du Rusquec.


Panelist for Figurative Art in Public Spaces: An Artists’ Panel Discussion at Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.



Presenter for La Céramique contemporaine aux États-Unis at Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, in France.



Featured artist for glaze demonstration and exhibition at the Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park in Japan.
Artist residency at The Fabric Workshop in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where Frey’s silkscreen wallpapers are created.
Award winner, Distinguished Women Artist Award and Exhibition, Fresno Art Museum, California.



Artist residency at Pilchuck Glass School in Stanwood, Washington, where Frey’s first glass sculptures are created.



Leads workshop at National College of Art, Craft, and Design in Stockholm, Sweden.
Artist residency at Europees Keramisch Werkcentrum, in ’s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands.



Fellow, American Craft Council.



Moves her studio to a 14,000 square foot warehouse on Adeline Street in Oakland.



Diagnosed and treated for colon cancer.



Retires from teaching and named Professor Emerita in Ceramics at CCAC.
Receives Founder’s Day Award at CCAC.


Artists' Legacy Foundation logo.


Artists’ Legacy Foundation is incorporated by cofounders Squeak Carnwath, Gary Knecht, and Viola Frey.
Receives Honorary Doctorate from California College of the Arts (formerly CCAC).
Receives Honorary Life Award, presented by Marvin Lipofsky, at the 34th Annual Conference of National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts, in Denver, Colorado.



Award winner, Masters of the Medium for Ceramics, James Renwick Alliance.



Viola Frey Distinguished Visiting Professor Series is established at CCA.



Dies in her Oakland home three weeks before her 71st birthday.