Carol H. Fraser (1930-1991)


Carol Hoorn Fraser was born in Superior, Wisconsin, in 1930. She graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota in 1951 with a major in chemistry and biology and a minor in art and literature. After a year abroad that included theology studies at the University of Göttingen, she returned to Minneapolis and in 1959, obtained her Master of Fine Arts Degree from the University of Minnesota. She was considered one of the “brightest lights” among the young Minnesota artists at the time, winning top prizes at juried exhibitions at the Walker Arts Centre and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and having her work purchased by important local institutions including the Walker Arts Centre.

She married her husband, John Fraser, in 1956, and they moved to Nova Scotia in 1961 where John taught at Dalhousie University. Carol became one of the region's most respected and best known artists, this in addition to her role as teacher, director of the Dalhousie Art Gallery, curator and art critic. She achieved national and international recognition, being elected a member of the RCA in 1976, and exhibiting her work in a national solo traveling exhibition organized by the Dalhousie Art Gallery in 1977-78. She participated in national group exhibitions at the National Gallery of Canada in 1962, 1963 and 1964; the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in 1962, 1963 and 1968; Expo '67 World's Fair in Montreal and the Montreal Olympics in 1976.

The Beaverbrook Art Gallery organized a major career survey of her drawings in 1987 which toured widely. A decade earlier, the gallery also hosted a venue for her striking paintings featuring the intertwining and transformation of human and natural forms. Inspiration for her work came from the natural environment that she adored. The relationship between nature and humankind was fundamental to her. Her scholarly reflections on theology, philosophy and poetics, coupled with her interest in the emotional, psychological, and spiritual aspects of the human condition became evocative themes in her paintings. She was passionate, funny, outspoken and devoted to her friends and causes. She gave generously of her art, her creative spirit and of her time. Ian Lumsden, former Beaverbrook Art Gallery director, called Carol “one of the greatest draughtsmen this country has known. One of the earliest truly professional artists on the Halifax scene, she was always true to her own inner vision and was not swayed by the vagaries of current art trends or vogues. Her work had integrity and intelligent depth.” Carol Fraser died on April 3, 1991. Her work is included in the collections of many important public collections across North America including the Smithsonian Institute and the National Gallery of Canada.

Carol's husband John created a website about her life in 2002; please click on the link to read more: Jottings