The Scarlet & Black

The Independent Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Grinnell Artists: Halley Freger




Photo by Nora Coghlan

Megan Tcheng

Halley Freger ’17 views the world through the lens of her camera.

As a seasoned filmmaker, visual artist and consumer of any-and-all things cinematic, Freger creates art that speaks to her personal experience and the complex web of social, political and cultural relationships around her.

Throughout all of her works however, one thing is certain: Freger doesn’t just create art – she gives it life. 

As any quick once-over of her YouTube page or her personal website ( will show you, Freger possesses an artistic perspective that is entirely her own. Her portfolio, which contains works that range from absurdist comedies to experimental performance pieces and interactive film installations, cleverly plays with the nuances of personal interpretation and assumed reality.

Photo by Nora Coghlan

Likewise, her films, laced with graphic images, richly saturated colors and eye-catching sequences, immediately command the attention of their audiences. As plots thicken and images layer, one on top of the other, the works take on a consuming nature of their own. This, of course, is exactly Freger’s intention.

“The whole form of film and video exists to draw you in,” reflected Freger when asked to characterize her medium of choice. “As an artist, you can completely construct an experience for people and suture [your audience] into these different perspectives… I don’t get that same experience when I look at a painting.”

Through the construction of her films, Freger harnesses the distinct power of the moving image. Under her direction, simple moments take on new meanings. Physical exchanges form stories, mundane objects become extraordinary and streams of consciousness converge into plotlines. In this way, just like their viewers, each and every one of Freger’s films exists in its own separate world.

Nonetheless, as a filmmaker, Freger still struggles to find the right way to captivate her audience and express her ideas. Often, in an attempt to maintain her personal connection to her art, Freger taps into her internal insecurities and draws inspiration from her everyday experiences. These exercises of self-reflection and artistic sincerity are precisely what propel Freger through her work.

“I make art because I want to reveal the things that I see as threatening and important to my survival,” noted Freger. “Art can heal in so many different ways. And, for me, that healing comes through revealing things that are hidden or codified in ways that are difficult to work through.”

Using her art as a platform, Freger has found an outlet for not only for her personal voice, but for the wide-ranging refrains of social activism. As a champion of feminist and queer issues (among countless others), Freger consciously chooses to weave the themes of gender, sexuality, race and class into her films.

“Talons,” one of Freger’s most recent productions, innovatively portrays the violation of an individual’s bodily autonomy and the blatant sexualization of the female form. Focusing in on a simple interaction – the brush of a man’s hand against a woman’s back – Freger forces her audience to examine the nuances of touch. She, in turn, invites viewers to consider important questions like: What makes a touch dangerous? What makes it nurturing? Where does the line between the two fall?

photo by Nora Coghlan

Through the incorporation of social activism and personal interpretation, Freger intentionally manipulates the limits of modern reality. Freger, in turn, encourages her audience to lean into feelings of discomfort, alienation and unfamiliarity. Ultimately, by prompting different emotional responses and visceral reactions from her viewers, Freger hopes to create art that will start dialogues between audience members and change the way people think.

“For me, art is just an extremely powerful language. It’s a way to represent things that are difficult to understand and to talk about,” she said.

At the end of the day, Freger’s self-identification as a filmmaker defines the way she views her role as an artist. When asked to share advice for aspiring artists, Freger emphasized the importance of taking responsibility for your art and finding spaces for self-expression.

“Having the confidence to say that you’re an artist is important. You need to own that,” offered Freger. “I may not necessarily have the technology or the crew that I need in order to do exactly what I want, but what I do is filmmaking – I know that.”

As a studio art major at Grinnell, Freger has spent the entirety of her college career finding different ways to communicate through her art. Over the course of the past four years, however, Freger’s art has undergone its fair share of growing pains and creative evolution. Now, however, as Freger prepares for her graduation this coming May, her attention is focused on the ever-pending question of her future.

So exactly what does Freger have in store? Simple:

“I’ve always said that the second I become a celebrity, I’ll release all of my nudes, as a sort of a power play,” Freger noted with a tinge of comedic sincerity.

Jokes aside, she continued “Honestly though, I’d like to go in screaming – loud.”

Rest assured, no matter where the future leads Freger, her art will continue to speak for itself.


Leave a Comment
More to Discover
Donate to The Scarlet & Black
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Scarlet & Black Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *