Jeremy Frey, Passamaquoddy began to make baskets in the spring of 2002 when he was twenty-two years old. He learned from his mother, Gal Frey who is a distant relative of the Gabriel family. His life partner is Ganessa, a Penobscot basketmaker. Jeremy’s art has now transcended the “basket” and the “Indian art” market – and he has become a nationally known artist who happens to be an Indian basketmaker. Jeremy is the youngest of 50 $50,000 2010 USA artists’ grants recipients. Chosen for the caliber and impact of their work, the USA Fellows for 2010 ranged in age from 32 to 71, represent some of the most innovative and diverse creative talents in the country. They include cutting-edge experimenters and traditional practitioners from the fields of architecture and design, crafts and traditional arts, dance, literature, film and media, music, theater arts, and visual arts. Most recently Jeremy won Best of Show awards from the U.S.’s two major Indian markets, the Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair & Market in March and the Santa Fe Indian Market in August. It seems he is only the second artist to have done this ever!
His work is part of the Abbe, Hood, Peabody and Hudson Museums permanent collections and he has been featured in exhibits at all of these museums. In July 2006 the Smithsonian invited he and Ganessa to be “artists in residence” at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington D.C. Recently he lectured at Harvard University after being commissioned to make several baskets that were given to departing tenured professors.
Jeremy knows all phases of basketmaking. He searches the woods for suitable brown ash trees that he cuts down. He then pounds the logs with a sledge hammer until the wood splits along the growth rings. He further thins this wood, gauges it into suitable widths and even dyes it himself. He makes miniature acorn baskets; miniatures are very difficult and time consuming. The acorn shape takes great skill. Jeremy tackles miniatures and acorn shapes simultaneously. The result is such a perfect basket that I have had conversations with other much older and more experienced basketmakers comparing baskets they have done or seen to Jeremy's standard. "Not as fine a splints as Jeremy's acorns" Or 'almost as good as Jeremy's work". He has added porcupine quill on birchbark pictures to several basket lids, including his basket that won the Heard’s top prize.
His newest techniques are braiding ash splints and cedar bark. His work is both traditional and innovative. Jeremy was raised on Passamaquoddy lands with deep respect for his culture and traditions. The honors Jeremy has received already in his short career indicate that this young Passamaquoddy basketmaker has terrific talent and skill. His work is currently highly prized and sought after. All indications are that he will continue getting better at his craft and better known for his talents.