Professor of Art John Frazer Remembered for Teaching, Painting, Films

John Frazer, professor of art, emeritus, taught drawing and film classes at Wesleyan from 1959 to 2001. He's pictured here in his Middletown studio with two of his own still life paintings. (Photo by Olivia Bartlett)

John Frazer, professor of art, emeritus, taught drawing and film classes at Wesleyan from 1959 to 2001. He’s pictured here in his Middletown studio with two of his own still life paintings.

John Frazer, professor of art, emeritus, died July 7 at the age of 82.

“Generations of Wesleyan students knew John as a gifted teacher of students at all levels of artistic ability,” said Ruth Striegel Weissman, provost and vice president for academic affairs.

Throughout his career on the Wesleyan faculty, from 1959 to 2001, Frazer introduced hundreds of Wesleyan students to the art of drawing, painting and film. He taught the first filmmaking courses at Wesleyan and continued this teaching until the Film Program, which he helped found, became independent of the Art Department. His influence lives on through his endowment of the John Frazer Instructor of Drawing position in the Department of Art and Art History.

Frazer’s own paintings were shown at more than 40 solo and group exhibitions throughout the United States and in Japan. He produced commissioned works of art for the Sheraton Plaza in Boston, for GE Corporation, and the for Middlesex Court House. Drawings he produced while pursuing his MFA at Yale are in the late Bernard Chaets’s classic text on drawing. His body of work includes seven films, among them Saybrook, the Colony, 1635-1985, narrated by Charles Kuralt (1985), and he was commissioned to direct a documentary for Wesleyan’s sesquicentennial. He received Fulbright grants to study in France and Taiwan, and he was the author of scholarly publications on topics ranging from documentary films to an introduction to the Hisako Yokoyama Exhibition in Otsu, Japan (1991).

Aside from his professional life, Frazer was an active member of the Middletown community, serving on the Middletown Commission on the Arts and the Committee for Design and Preservation.

Susan, his wife of many years, a French teacher at Wesleyan, predeceased him in 1992. He is survived by his spouse, Wil Hall, his daughter Katherine Frazer Thayer and her husband Scott Thayer. Memorial contributions in his name may be made to MARC: Community Resources, 124 Washington Street, Middletown, CT 06457. A memorial service is planned for the early fall.

Read a 2008 News @ Wesleyan story about John Frazer here.

Olivia Drake

Olivia (M.A.L.S. '08) is editor of the Wesleyan Connection newsletter and campus photographer. I have two dogs, five chickens and 30 house plants. I like snow, photographing firemen and enjoying "stinky" cheeses. Send me your story ideas to newsletter@wesleyan.edu. 

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