Rachel Nelson, who joined Visual Studies with the first cohort in 2010, successfully defended her dissertation this Fall. In At the Edge of Ruin: Seeing Art Under Perpetual Conflict, she examines four different art practices that are embedded in current political conflicts and struggles over abuses of power: the seemingly endless warfare in Palestine, the worsening refugee crisis in Europe, the racial injustices of the U.S. criminal court system, and the ongoing environmental catastrophe in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Focusing on artworks by Emily Jacir, Kader Attia, collaborators Keith Calhoun and Chandra McCormick, and Sammy Baloji, Rachel considers what insights these art practices can give into current global conditions of both art and conflict. Her analysis pinpoints that, whether gazing at exhibitions or witnessing the current state of affairs across the globe, it often seem we are currently standing at the very edge of ruin.Rachel plans to develop her dissertation into a book, with the inclusion of new chapters dealing with more artists. She has already been hired as curator at the Institute of the Arts and Sciences, and in Winter 2017 she will teach upper-division Art of the Contemporary African Diaspora for our department. We wish her great success in all her future endeavors!
Image:Rachel Nelson (far right) with her advisor Jennifer Gonzalez (far left) and her committee members Elisabeth Cameron and T.J. Demos celebrate her successful defense with a toast of champagne.