You are here

crystal am nelson

Mellon Just Transformations Postdoctoral Fellow at Penn State University
Identity and representation, contemporary African Diasporic art, black visual culture, black popular culture, contemporary photography, social practices, performance, critical pleasure studies, and contemporary black life.
VM: 404.855.0724
Research Interests: 

My research explores black visual culture(s), broadly speaking, and their articulations in painting, photography, film/video, performance. My current project investigates the relationship between the black radical imagination and black desire as well as the role of black visual culture in generating black pleasure. My other related areas of interest include the visualization and mediation of historical trauma; the intersections of gender, race, and sexuality; and how they manifest in black visual culture as reflections of unresolved history. 




Selected Publications: 


“And They Started Sayin’ “Black Power!,” Feminist Media Histories, Summer 2018

"Keisha Scarville," Contact Sheet, Summer 2015

“African American Women and Photography,” Oxford African American Studies Center, July 2013

“Scandal,” Brooklyn Rail, June 2013

“New Growth, Contemporary Art, and Its Discontents: Dispatches from the Frontier,” Art Practical, Issue 4.12

“The Capital of Caribbean Cool,” Art Practical, Issue 4.4

“Interview with Romel Jean Pierre,” Art Practical, Issue 3.8

Multiple entries in the African American National Biography, Ed. Gates, Henry Louis Jr., Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, Oxford University Press, January 2008



“Jane Taylor: William Kentridge: Being Led by the Nose,”, May 31, 2018

Selected Presentations: 

7th Feminist Art History Conference
Paper: “In Our Mother’s Gardens: Aesthetic Communities of Resistance”

CAA 109th Annual Conference
Paper: “Repose: Black Nightmares, Black Dreams”
Panel: co-chair, The Color of Joy: Rethinking Critical Race Visual Culture

16th Annual Yale University American Art Graduate Symposium on Embodiment
Paper: “Repose: Black Nightmares, Black Dreams”

&Now biennial conference, Notre Dame, IN
Paper: a dubious, unofficial, highly abbreviated, deeply experimental history of how the black body has remained upright despite efforts to push it down
Panel: Speculative Bodies: A Confluence of Imagetext

Idea LABS plenary address, Grantmakers in the Arts (GIA) Conference, Los Angeles, CA

San Francisco Queer Cultural Center’s Emerging Scholars Conversation with Cheryl Dunye, Center for Sex and Culture, San Francisco, CA

American Studies Association Annual Conference, Los Angeles California
Paper: “In Search of Haydée”
Panel: The Black Feminist Pleasure Show: Perverse Bliss and Public Sex in Post–American Black Feminism

“Visual Regimes of Power, Privilege, and Violence,” First Responders Series, McColl Center for Art + Innovation, Charlotte, NC

This Is What I Want Performance Art and Film Festival , San Francisco, CA
Roundtable: Pillars of Salt: A Reflective Roundtable Discussion (Symposium on the Gaze)

FAQ: A Salon Series in Feminist and Queer of Color Critique Graduate Student Conference, San Diego, CA
Paper: “Womb Culture: A Methodological Manifesto”
Panel: Temporality and Futurity

Association of Art Historians 40th Annual Conference, London, England
Paper: “We Ain’t Gotta Be This: Queering Sights of Blackness”
Panel: “Colour Me Queer”

African Studies Association Annual Conference, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Paper: “Zanele Muholi: Queering the Sphere of Resistance,” ACASA Sponsored Panel: “The Body Theorized”

Lecture, Emmanuel College, Boston, Massachusetts; Title of Paper: “Selections from the Black Urbanist Reader: Scattered and Collected”

Panel, “Capital of Caribbean Cool: Contemporary Caribbean Artists in Miami;" Organizer and Moderator, David Castillo Gallery, Miami, Florida

Lecture, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, California; Title of Paper: “Performing Identity in American Art and Culture”

Teaching Interests: 

Race and representation, race and visual art, black visual art

Honors and Awards: 

UCSC Art Division’s Dean’s Art’s Excellence Award 

UCSC Art Division’s Dean’s Art’s Excellence Award

Honorable Mention, Ford Foundation Pre-Dissertation Fellowship

Center for Archival Research and Training (CART) Fellowship

Porter Travel Fellowship, UC Santa Cruz

apexart Franchise Program curatorial grant

Critical Studies Resident, Center for Photography at Woodstock, Woodstock, NY

Fieldwork Marfa Researcher-in-Residence, ESBA Nantes Métropole & HEAD-Genève Academie, Marfa, TX

Art Practical Writer-in-Resident, Cannonball (formerly LegalArt Miami), Miami, FL

Baum Award for Emerging American Photographers, Nominee

Visions from the New California Fellowship Award

Education and Training: 
MA, Visual Studies, UC Santa Cruz
MFA, photography, San Francisco Art Institute
BA–summa cum laude, English and identity studies, University of Rhode Island
PDF icon CV-2021-web.pdf115.43 KB