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Real Life Dramas and Reading Raymond Carver / Mary Frey

Tuesday, November 6, 2018 7 PM

84-060r copy

© Mary Frey

Exhibit opening, book party, & talk for two projects:
Reading Raymond Carver (1979-1983) and Real Life Dramas (1984-87)
Tuesday, November 6, 2018, 7 PM

Stay with us after our special evening with Mary Frey to watch election night returns.


We will exhibit images from two of Mary Frey's recent publications: Reading Raymond Carver (Peperoni Books, 2017), and Real Life Dramas (Peperoni Books, 2018). For both, Frey revisited work she made over 25 years ago to honor the intentions of her original projects while still resonating with viewers today.


The black and white images from Reading Raymond Carver depict middle class Americans going about their daily routines. Frey considered her subjects her “cast of characters” who reappear throughout the book, creating a journey for the reader as they make choices or accept consequences, opening up the photographs to a variety of interpretations.


Now in its second printing, Reading Raymond Carver has garnered much recognition. It was on the Paris Photo/Aperture Foundation’s shortlist for best First Photo Book of the year, and was been cited on ten best photo book lists for 2017.


The imagery in Real Life Dramas is culled from a series of the same name, first exhibited at MOMA’s 1987 New Photography 2 show. The original photographs are, like her black and white images, portrayals of ordinary moments constructed for the camera, but with the addition of photographically generated texts in the prints' white borders, that appropriate the language of popular culture. For the book (and for this exhibition), Frey has abandoned these strict pairings of text and image and instead incorporates a few phrases throughout her edit, opening up the work to intriguing, new possibilities.


The artist will be signing copies of both books during the opening.

MARY FREY earned her MFA from the Yale University School of Art in 1979 and subsequently taught photography at the Hartford Art School, retiring from the undergraduate program in the Spring of 2015.


Among the numerous awards Frey has received for her work are a Guggenheim Fellowship (1984), two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts (1980 & 1992), a Te Foundation Fellowship (2004), and a grant from the John Anson Kittredge Fund (2010). She was the Harnish Visiting Artist at Smith College (1994-95), and completed an artist’s residency at the Burren College of Art, County Clare, Ireland (spring of 2001).  


Her pictures are held in many public and private collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Chicago Art Institute and the International Polaroid Collection.


Much of Frey’s work addresses the nature of the documentary image in contemporary culture. Most recently she has worked with 19th century photographic processes to produce ambrotypes and lithophanes. All of her projects can be viewed at

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