Mabel Frazer: Mormon Artist
Mabel Pearl Frazer was an artist and art professor at the University of Utah from 1920 to 1953, where she taught painting, sculpting, ceramics, silkscreen, textile design, and art history. She took a leave of absence in 1930 and traveled to Italy where she studied and painted—two of her paintings were exhibited at the Uffizi. After her retirement, she continued to paint until her death in 1981.
Frazer was born in 1887 in West Jordan, Utah, but raised in the rural community of Beaver, Utah. As a young woman, Frazer studied art at the University of Utah (graduating in 1914) and followed her dream to New York where she studied at the School of Industrial Art, the Beaux Arts Institute of Design, and the Art Students League, where she also taught.
She never married and often traveled with friends into nature to paint and often preferred to sleep under her car rather than in a tent. She traveled to Mesoamerica to Palenque to sketch and tour the ruins.
She lived in a small home her father built her. She filled her home with art and easels and is fabled for making an old box piano into a bed and sleeping in her living room because her bedroom was full of art.
Frazer was a modernist and her work was not popular during her lifetime. Since then, her work has been included in exhibits in Utah, New York, and Washington, DC. She was a versatile artist—she painted figures, still-lifes, landscapes, and murals. Some of her murals were painted for the Salt Lake Temple; Frazer was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.