FACULTY SPOTLIGHT:  Professor Marietta D'antonio-Fryer

Professor Marietta D’antonio-Fryer is an artist, art educator and Healing Art expert with 30 years professional experience. Cheyney University is proud to highlight her career accomplishments and contributions to the CU legacy of excellence.

Professor D’antonio-Fryer first began her journey at Cheyney University when Dr. Lillian Cannon, retired chairperson for Fashion Merchandising, asked her to volunteer. Dr. Cannon was a long-time customer in Prof. D’antonio-Fryer’s custom-frame and art supply store. At the time, the future of Cheyney University’s art program was in jeopardy of being eliminated.

An avid art advocate Prof. Fryer said, “The thought of having an HBCU (Historically Black College or University) lose their art program inspired me to apply. I was very grateful and humbled that I was hired.”

After joining the CU family, she received the Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Distinguished Teacher award of 2004-05. She also received the Award of Excellence in Teaching at CU, which was voted on by the student body in both 2003 and 2005. Recently, Prof. Fryer was named the CU Chairperson for the Humanities and Communication Arts Department.

Prof. Fryer adheres to the belief that art is a language and art is about problem solving, “An artist uses creativity to balance spirituality with reality and will always find a solution by creating a job when there isn’t one.”

Her many career accomplishments include a U.S. Patent on the design of the Brenmar Stretcher, an invention to facilitate painting on silk. Her work has appeared in a United Nations’ solo exhibit in watercolors, which exhibited internationally.

She represented the United States in an exhibit at the Cairo Opera House, Egypt, in an international juried/invitational exhibit and was asked to curate part of it. She has worked with the United States Army Space and Missile Defense Command and the US Army Arts & Crafts where she developed a Healing Art program after 9/11 and Operation Healing Arts, a world- wide project. This April Prof. Fryer will be working with the United States Coast Guard Diversity Program.

One of her watercolors was featured in the White House Chronicles where she was mentioned as the nation’s leader in Healing Arts.

Prof. Fryer co-wrote a Healing art curriculum utilizing her theories for the state of Delaware’s incarcerated Youth and was named the 1998 Delaware Art Educator of the Year, by the National Art Education Association.
Although many are unfamiliar with uses of art as healing therapy, Prof. Fryer uses it as a tool to help clients release negative emotions and replace them with hope and joy. She said, “Art is a wonderful catalyst for change. My work is spiritually driven. I believe we are spirits having a human existence.”

D’antonio-Fryer is the Founder of ‘Totem Rhythms, Inc.,’ which invites project participation by Native American Nations, Indigenous groups, organizations, individuals and families.

Totem Rhythms is the focus of a documentary book highlighting the first 20 totem poles made through the organization. It was collaborated with Anthropologist Dr. Dave Minderhout, and includes interviews of participants who made the totem poles.

Each totem pole tells a different story and is reflective of the struggles and triumphs of those whose hands helped create them. They serve as inspirations to others to find strength during times of trouble and find joy and hope in a better tomorrow. These principles are very much in tune with the legacy of the oldest HBCU.

The most inspiring individual throughout Prof. Fryer’s career was her mother. She explained, “She was non-judgmental and offered unconditional love. And she bought all the art supplies I needed!”

Recognizing the need to support the arts and benefits it brings to one’s life, Fryer began her formal art undergrad education at a fellow PASSHE (Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education) sister school, Kutztown University. “My other inspirations were my professors at both Kutztown University and Marywood University in Scranton. They helped mold me into who I am today and help direct my life purpose.”

One great honor Fryer received was as the Kutztown University Alumni Outstanding and Distinguished Service Citation Award in 2007.

She has created over 40 large murals which has included many organizations, CU students and CU Professor Joel Keener. Through her healing art she has dealt with survivors of trauma, children with disabilities, elderly and aging, mental health disabilities, visually and hearing impaired, crime victims and victims of sexual assault.

Commendations include President and Mrs. George H. W. Bush and Vice President, former Delaware Senator, Joseph Biden.

Prof. Fryer’s positive outlook on life is “Mistakes are your subconscious genius directing you to the right path.”