Gene Friley
Birth Date: 1921
Death Date: July 2019
Artist Gallery
Eugene Friley, Ohio State University (OSU) class of 1947 (BFA) and class of 1949 (MFA), taught in the ceramics program for more than forty years. He started at OSU in 1939 and became a ceramic engineering major, but placed his studies on hold to serve in the Air Force as a B-29 bombardier in World War II–Pacific Theatre. After The War Friley returned to Ohio State, finished his degrees as a ceramic art major, and joined the faculty. He taught at Ohio State for four decades and retired when he turned 70. He still continues to create in his OSU studio. Friley’s studio work includes ceramics, drawing, painting, public art, garden sculptures, and fountains. With a strong affinity for public art and garden sculptures, Friley’s innovative use of ceramic materials, figurative forms, playful organic designs and nature’s presence are highly prevalent in his art. His pieces are full of humor - one such example is a relief of Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit with a modern day exit sign above their heads, pointing to the right of the picture, brazenly advising them to escape the situation. Another example are his finger pots - clay hands with one particular finger aimed at the sky. These days Friley mostly works in plaster and concrete, because his ceramic pieces were continually breaking on their trip from his studio at OSU to the kilns two miles away. Some of his pieces are very large at four to six feet tall, making his work innovative. He enjoys living next to the OSU golf course, which has inspired the art in his front and back yards. He believes that nature is the source of all art, his "prime teacher," and aims to reflect nature's textures and forms in his work. When asked about his creative process, Friley said "Picasso once said that creating is like murder because you can only end up with one result and you have to toss the other five or six possibilities. That’s the challenging thing."