In April, 1991, Carol Hoorn Fraser died at our home in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Shortly afterwards, thanks to the guidance of Rob Stevenson, I bought my first computer, a Mac Portable, and that spring and summer I sat and made a number of jottings about Carol’s life and art. I was not being literary, I did not read them over or revise them, and I stopped when nothing further suggested itself.
A few years later, being now engaged in archival work on her, I ran them off on my laser printer and put them, still unrevised, into a couple of ring-binders for the benefit of future researchers. There were more of them than I had realized.
Last year (2000) I acquired a Mac iBook, and with it a sense of new freedoms and possibilities. I had effectively been unable to get out on the Web in my old slow black-and-white machine. But now, having enjoyed coming upon Carol’s images in several sites, I decided to do some sharing myself.
From time to time I have been asked if I was writing a book on Carol, and I have always truthfully answered that I wasn’t. I was, as I thought, simply assembling material for the benefit of future researchers. There are now over eighty ring-binders of various kinds in my archives, plus taped interviews with various persons who knew her.
But I am also a literary person of sorts, at least I published three books and a number of articles, and I have come over the years to appreciate the value of primary sources. There is a good deal to be said for reading them before they have been predigested by biographers.
So I decided, after going through them for the first time, to put the jottings on the Web, for the benefit of people who already know something about Carol and would like to know more, or who don’t yet know of her and will, I hope, be glad to come upon her marvellous images and hear something about the complex and valiant woman who made them.
I have tidied up typos, eliminated some stylistic clumsinesses, clarified some allusions, consolidated some sections that belonged naturally together, divided up some long paragraphs, provided Roman numerals as dividers and a few verbal transitions, and omitted or toned down a few things I said when I was writing simply for myself.
Two of the sections, “Art Education” and “Resistance,” are substantial expansions, and the list in “Some People” is entirely new. But there is nothing in them that I wouldn’t have put there at the time.
Essentially what you will read in the Jottings is what I wrote in 1991, when I knew less about some matters than I do now but had a better memory and was a better writer. Some things have changed since then, but I have neither added nor subtracted anything in the light of subsequent knowledge and events.
There are thirty-eight Jottings, and I have arranged them under the headings that you will see in the panel on the left:
I have tried for a sequence that would make emotional sense if you began at the beginning and read through to the end, as if this were a print book.
But you can travel freely among the texts. Simply click on one of those key-words in the panel on the left, and then choose one of the titles in a row at the top of each page.
The title of the Jotting that you are looking at appears in red. A title does not change colour after you have read the Jotting.
To get back to the homepage, simply click on the iconic house at the top left, itself from one of Carol’s watercolours.
In the Afterwords at the end of a number of the Jottings, I have supplemented some of the things that are said in them.
The Jottings and Afterwords vary considerably in length. At a present count, the Jottings add up to about 67,000 words, the Afterwords to 27,000.
There are about a hundred and fifty of Carol’s images here, some on the text pages themselves (often as thumbnails), some as click-ons from the text, some in what I have called Interludes.
The titles within square brackets [repeat—the titles within square brackets] are ones that I gave to works that she had left untitled.
As to the placement of the visuals, Carol herself did not discuss her images with me, let alone explain them, nor did I ask. But various linkages have simply felt right to me and to my designer Barbara Bickle, herself an artist, and going back and forth through Carol’s works has enhanced my appreciation of the depth and complexity of her art and mind.
There are also a number of images of other kinds.
If you click on images with a link-coloured caption, they will enlarge.
The visual Interludes at the end of each group break up the flow of my own prose and allow aspects of her art to emerge that aren’t touched on in the Jottings. They are not directly related to the groups in which they occur.
The panel marked Writings will take you to several of Carol’s own published writings.
These photos of Carol were chosen and arranged by Barbara Bickle. She did a marvelous job.
I have learned, grudgingly, that to worry over whether a text will look the way it “ought” to look for all viewers is rather like a child’s demanding to know what the time really is.
But anyway, I shall say this much, after being coached by my Webmaster.
On my Mac, the body text that I am looking at is 12-point Minion Web, set for a maximum line length of about five inches, and displaying a reasonable number of words within that five inch line when viewed at 90% courtesy of Text-Zoom in the View menu of my browser, Internet Explorer 5.0 Mac.
I say this chiefly for the benefit of other Mac users. Apparently PC owners will be able to view at 100% or Medium or default text size and will see the same number of words per line, approximately.
Configured as I have described it, there is, for me, a maximum correlation between the text and the images in the left margin. But no harm is done if the fit is looser.
The font used here has been coded for Minion Web as first preference, Georgia as second preference, and then Default serif. You can, in your browser’s preferences or options, choose to override these settings.
To put things less technically, in the paragraph that you have just finished reading, as viewed on my own screen, the first line ends with the word "first", the second with "Default", and the third with "options".
If you experience any technical difficulties, please send email to the Webmaster. Other communications should be addressed to the Site Secretary. You may not get an immediate answer, but all contributions about the artist and her art will be gratefully received.
When I resume my archival activities, a new panel on the left will be added through which I can solicit information about works about which I have no records or incomplete ones. (Where, oh where, for example, is “Couple II”?)
If there should prove to be an interest in a forum in which information and opinions can be shared, that too can be added.
An updates panel will be added soon.
At some point down the road, too, an index to Carol’s images on the site will be provided.
This site can go on evolving.
14. Related sites
Clicking on Google and asking for “Carol Hoorn Fraser” will deliver several sites in which images by her appear.
The most important of these at the time of writing are Thistle Dance Publishing, Carol Hoorn Fraser and Art in Minneapolis Minnesota, Carol Hoorn Fraser, the latter created by Carol Lind Geary, her very gifted fellow artist and friend in Minneapolis days, as part of a fascinating larger site of her own (www.wholeo.net).
The Thistle Dance page includes an especially fine obituary notice by Gemey Kelly and my own introduction to the catalogue for the 1993 memorial exhibition that Leighton Davis and I co-curated, A Visionary Gaze.
15. Thistle Dancing
I may as well add, since Thistle Dance Publishing offers a number of cards with images by Carol on them, that I am not a partner in that enterprise. But I have a very high regard for it.
It was begun on a shoestring three years ago by Joyce and Rob Stevenson, the quality of the reproductions is superb, and they have sought out a number of other excellent Nova Scotia artists for their images. This is regional art publishing of a high order.
Being regional is not the same thing as being provincial.
Nova Scotia is an increasingly lovely and fascinating region.
Barbara Bickle of Bickle Creative was my Web designer. Rob Stevenson, computer virtuoso, did the HTML coding and patiently answered questions. Most of the time I myself felt rather like a Martian who had trouble with concepts like “clutch,” “brakes,” and “ignition” (why do we always assume that Martians must be smart?) and who was trying to learn over the phone how to drive the car in which he happened to find himself. Joyce Stevenson acted as copy-editor and proofreader.
17. Copyrights and Permissions
I myself own the copyrights to all Carol’s images. The artist’s art works and my own photos are registered with CARFAC (Canada) and with the Canadian Artists Representation Copyright Collective. The normal copyright conventions apply to them and to our writings.
- to Barbara Bickle, whose professional expertise, scrupulous and sensitive judgment, and unflagging enthusiasm for this project made possible a nine-month collaboration without, so far as I can recall, a single irritable or impatient word on either side.
- to Carol Lind Geary, for the lift to my spirits from our e-mailing during the past two years and the inspirational example of her own evolving art site (“the roll, the rise, the carol, the creation”).
- to David McGimpsey, poet, fictionist, baseball scholar, balladeer, wit, natural-born teacher, for good talk and viewing during what would otherwise have been some rather bleak times.
- to Bernice Purdy, belle fleur de la Nouvelle Écosse, for the privilege of her conversation and the unfading joy of her own rich and lovely art.
- to George Elliott Clarke, his star burning ever more brightly, for his belief that I may still know something about the art and craft of poetry.
- to Will Fraser, film-maker (not a relative), whose creative ebullience sent me back to the keyboard.
- to Ann Johnson, perfect thesis-writer, for her generous researches for me in Minnesota.
- to Ian Lumsden, gallery director, and Leighton Davis, gallery director and artist, for their wholehearted support of Carol while she was alive and their helpfulness since her death.
- to Ineke Graham, artist and gallery owner, whose enthusiasm kept Carol producing the great series of watercolours in the 1980s.
- to Mary Sparling, gallery director, for acquiring her works, sponsoring her Expressionist Image show, and launching her as a lecturer.
- to Joe Sherman, large-souled editor of ArtsAtlantic, for giving her a much-needed forum as a writer.
- to Judy Dietz for the magnificently curated recent show of works from her final year, Unfinished Business.
- to Mike and Norma Zwerin once again (too little, too late) for all that their friendship fifty years ago has made possible.
- to Joyce and Rob Stevenson for, well, everything. This half of the site is for them, and for Carol Lind Geary.
Halifax, Nova Scotia