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crystal am nelson

Identity and representation, contemporary African Diasporic art, black visual culture, 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, and digital and web-based platforms. My current project investigates the relationship between the black radical imagination and black desire as well 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 cross-sections of gender, race, and sexuality; and how these cross-sections manifest in popular culture as reflections of not only unresolved history but also as futurist propositions for next-century transcultural and transglobal identities. 




Kresge 226
Mailing Address: 

Porter Faculty Services
1156 High Street
Santa Cruz, CA

Selected Publications: 

"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

Selected Presentations: 

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”

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
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