Q&A: Mary Frey



Have you recently been living by any life philosophy? You’re going to be dead a long time, so take advantage of today. What will baffle future generations about our day and age? Reality TV. Are you aware of any conspiracies? I can’t talk about it. What is it that interests you about photography? It hovers between truth and fiction, never certain as to where it should land. What is the worst thing about city life? Rats at dusk in the summertime. What part of the planet would you like to explore? Southern Argentina. What do you think is the most plausible of the supernatural? Spirit photography. If you had to align yourself with a leader in history, who would it be? Joan of Arc. Pick a field of science to be an expert within. Neurobiology. What moment have you most wished you’d had a camera when you hadn’t? Too many to chose from. Choose a job you would be willing to do for free on the side. Yoga instructor.

Describe the most important photo you’ve seen. I can’t choose just one image. For me it was the entire book, The Decisive Moment. It showed me the possibilities inherent in photographs, changed the way I approached my work and set me on a course of life-long learning and discovery. How often do you take other people’s advice? Not very often. Describe a personal hell. Having to listen to other people’s unsolicited advice. Which living person do you most admire? Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl who survived being shot by the Taliban and became a global advocate for women’s rights. On what occasion do you lie? I never lie.

What is the best way to educate yourself? Read, pay attention, try, fail, try again. What is the next book you want to read? I want to re-read everything by Raymond Carver. Ultimate camera? Haven’t come across it yet. Most used camera? It depends upon the project- Wista 4×5, Mamiya 7 II, Nikon D-800. How would you explain the internet to someone from the 1950’s? It’s the telephone, radio and postman all contained in one device you can hold in your hand. Think Dick Tracy’s two-way wrist radio updated. Pick an historic moment from the last hundred years to bring a camera to. The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Which talent would you most like to have? I wish I could sing (on key). What is your plan for the next 24 hours? Eat, sleep, read, and answer e-mail.

Mary Frey received her MFA from Yale University in 1979 and is currently a professor of photography at the Hartford Art School. Frey has attained numerous awards for her work, most notably a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1984 and two photography fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1980 and 1992. She was the recipient of a Te Foundation Fellowship in 2004. During the 1994-95 academic year Mary Frey was the Harnish Visiting Artist at Smith College, Northampton, MA and in the spring of 2001 she completed an artist’s residency at the Burren College of Art, County Clare, Ireland. Her work has been exhibited extensively and is part of many public and private collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, NY, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Chicago Art Institute and the International Polaroid Collection.

For more of Mary’s work visit her website – MaryFrey.com