Artist Beth Frey’s love/hate relationship with AI

The artist discusses how AI has broadened her practice, but also acknowledges the issues and challenges that can arise from using the tech

Canadian artist Beth Frey describes her work as “playfully ominous”. Visually she pulls from cartoons and children’s TV shows from her childhood as well as memes and internet culture. “There’s always a new way to tell a joke and different modes of communication to explore an idea,” she says.

Frey has become best known for her characters, which are whimsical with a hint of menace, and they take various forms in her paintings, installations and most recently AI-generated images.

Her mixed media approach stems from her traditional background, where she has a masters in painting and drawing, plus years of experience in sculpture. Through this mix, Frey’s characters feel odd but still rooted in this world from the rich detail the artist weaves in both the figures themselves but also the universes they sit in.

Top: Video still from Is it a dream where our ‘heart’ is really the body or our ‘mind’ is the heart?, 2022. Above: Untitled AI image, generated with Dall-E 2, 2022