Reading Raymond Carver / Mary Frey


When Mary Frey began photographing family, friends, and strangers in her immediate environment in 1979, she was in a state of transition. Her studies in school were finished (she had just received her MFA from Yale), she was undertaking her first teaching assignments, and she was pregnant—with all the attendant responsibilities, duties, worries compelling her to look for meaning in everyday life. Her childhood had occurred under the shadow of imminent nuclear catastrophe, in an America where lifestyle magazines and television give directions on how the "Brave New World" should look and function.

And so Mary Frey made peculiar pictures. Technically perfect, between snapshot and staged enactment, they probe intimacy and distance, capturing the charged moments of everyday life with children, adolescents, and adults. Her 4×5 large format camera captured the banality of Middle Class USA, 35 years ago—producing portraits with resonant signifiers of the late 1970s: headphones, Farrah Fawcett posters, 8-track players and other trophies. 

Designed by Hannes Wanderer

Published by Peperoni Books, 2017
First edition

Hardcover, 96 pages, black and white (tritone), 9.25 × 10.5 inches