Born 1979, Minneapolis, Minnesota
In her artistic practice, Andrea Carlson infuses landscapes with metaphor and allusion to explore ideas about storytelling, colonization, and institutional authority. In these otherwise empty expanses, Carlson cites characters, animals, art objects, and text drawn from Indigenous, art historical, museological, and cinematic sources. Her landscapes are also marked by earth forms and trees that rise above a flat horizon where sky meets water. And where there is water, there is inevitably a shoreline, which for Carlson represents an in-between place where stories, myth, and memory are held perpetually in a natural archive. “Like all liminal spaces,” Carlson wrote in a 2018 essay titled “Morgen rød” (Red Morning), “shores make imagining and scrying [divination] possible. Walking along the shoreline is trance inducing and hypnotic. Listening to the rhythm of the waves against the sound of footsteps and the heart beating is like listening to the oldest, universal song. If one meditates while walking a shore, poems and stories can be pulled out of that rhythm and out of the patterns and waves.”1 One gets the sense that Carlson’s artistic practice is her own meditation on shores, perhaps inspired by her childhood walks along Lake Superior and the other Great Lakes.
For the two screenprints she made at Highpoint, Anti-Retro (2018) (cat. no. 35) and Exit (2018) (cat. no. 36) , Carlson transferred her usually intricate draftsmanship and commentary to printmaking for the first time. Along the seemingly endless shores of both prints, Carlson foregrounded metaphors from exploitation film, ancient works of Native American art, popularized stereotypes of the American frontier, and titles (incorporated into the images) that elucidate the concert of references. Anti-Retro confronts the viewer with opposing narratives of the American West and prompts consideration of Indigenous agency in the historical and popular framing of colonial America. Exit similarly responds to the erasure of Indigenous history and culture by rejecting the misconception that America was ever a “New World.”
Carlson, whose heritage is Scandinavian and Anishinaabe, specifically Grand Portage Ojibwe, received her BA in art and American Indian studies from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (2003), and her MFA in visual studies from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (2005). Her artistic practice uses painting, drawing, printmaking and film, though Carlson is also an accomplished author, curator, and lecturer. She has been awarded fellowships and grants by Joan Mitchell Foundation (2017), Carolyn Foundation (2016), Minnesota State Arts Board (2014, 2011, 2006), and McKnight Foundation (2008). She has had solo exhibitions at the College of New Jersey Art Gallery, Ewing (2017); Centrale Galerie Powerhouse, Montreal (2016); and Bockley Gallery, Minneapolis (2014, 2011, 2008). Her work has been included in group exhibitions at the Minneapolis Institute of Art (2019, 2015, 2007); Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, Santa Fe (2015); and National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (2013). Carlson currently lives and works in Chicago and maintains a studio in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Andrea Carlson, “Morgen rød” (Red Morning), Fett, March 2018, p. 46. ↩︎