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.
She returned to Minneapolis after a year of travel, which included theology studies at the University of Göttingen. In 1959 she obtained her Master of Fine Arts Degree from the University of Minnesota. She practiced watercolour painting and monotyping.
She won top prizes at many juried exhibitions at the Walker Arts Centre and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Her work has been purchased by important Minneapolis institutions including the Walker Arts Centre.
With her husband, she moved to Nova Scotia in 1961. She taught briefly followed by a position as a curator, art critic, and director of the Dalhousie Art Gallery.
She as elected a member of the Royal Canadian Academy in 1976.
She had a national solo traveling exhibition organized by the Dalhousie Art Gallery from 1977-78, as well as The Beaverbrook Gallery. She has also participated 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 Montréal and the Montréal Olympics in 1976.
Inspiration for her work was drawn from the natural environment. She valued the relationship between nature and humankind. Her scholarly reflections on theology, philosophy and poetics, along with her interest in the emotional, psychological, and spiritual aspects of the human condition became important themes in her paintings.
Fraser died in 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.