Through painting and drawing, Carlson cites entangled cultural narratives and institutional authority relating to objects based on the merit of possession and display. The artist cites her Ojibwe ancestry as a foundation for her investigations of cultural consumption, history and identity, and the intrinsic power of storytelling.
She has been the recipient of numerous grants and fellowships including those awarded by the Carolyn Foundation, the Joan Mitchell Foundation, the Minnesota State Arts Board, and the McKnight Foundation. Carlson has exhibited in Canada and she has had solo exhibitions at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, La Centrale at the Powerhouse (Montreal, QC), and the Plains Art Museum (Fargo, ND), among others. In addition to the many reviews and articles on her work, Carlson has worked as a writer and curator, and she is an accomplished lecturer. Carlson is based in Chicago, Illinois.
Carlson is represented by Bockley Gallery (Minneapolis).