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Rachel Nelson

Rachel Nelson

Rachel Nelson, PhD, is interim director of UC Santa Cruz Institute of the Arts and Sciences (IAS), and teaches in the History of Art and Visual Culture department. During her tenure at the IAS, Nelson has curated and organized exhibitions with artists including Carlos Motta, Futurefarmers, Ursula Biemann and Paulo Tavares, Angela Melitopoulos and Angela Anderson, Harrell Fletcher, Newton Harrison and Helen Mayer Harrison, and Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller. She has collaborated on exhibitions and programming with institutions including SFMOMA; San José Museum of Art; San José Institute of Contemporary Art; and Minnesota Street Project, San Francisco. Currently, Nelson is co-curating a multi-sited group exhibition, Barring Freedom, engaging art, prisons, and justice, which will be shown bi-coastally in New York City, San José, and Santa Cruz. Nelson’s under-preparation monograph, Seeing in Whiteout, focuses on the strategies contemporary artists in the United States use to reveal and disturb the racialized histories and presents of the prison industrial complex. She has a chapter in the forthcoming edited volume, Under the Skin: Feminist Art and Art Histories from the Middle East and North Africa Today, British Academy/ Oxford University Press, 2020 and has published exhibition catalogue essays, journal articles, and reviews, including in NKAThird TextSavvy, and African Arts. 

Ph.D., Interim Director, Institute of the Arts and Sciences, UCSC
Selected Publications: 
  • "Visions at the Scene of Trauma: New Orleans Prospect(s.)" Third Text. Volume 29, Numbers 1-2 March 2015, pp. 14-30. 
  • (Mis)Seeing in Contemporary Art/(Mis)Seeing as Contemporary Art." Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art. Fall 2013. Issue 33.
  • Kiluanji Kia Henda: Art Beyond the Local and the Global." SAVVY: Journal of Contemporary African Art. eds. Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung and Andrea Heister. Fall 2012.
  • "Imaginary Histories, Imaginary Progress: A Conversation with Kiluanji Kia Henda." SAVVY: Journal of Contemporary African Art. eds. Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung and Andrea Heister. Fall 2012.
  • Book Review:Western Frontiers of African Art by Moyo Okediji. African Arts. Winter 2013. Vol 47.
Selected Presentations: 
  • "Spectors in the City: Luanda Past and Present." Arts Council of African Studies Association (ACASA), March 2014.
  • "Kiluanji Ki Henda's Photographic Practice: Exorcising History, Exposing the Present." Association for the Study of Worldwide African Diaspora, Dominican Republic, October 2013.
  • “Gallery Soso Arte Contemporânea Africana: (Re) Marketing Contemporary Art from Africa in Brazil and Africa.”ACASA, March 2011.
  • “Remapping the Narrative in Contemporary African Art.” At Critical Encounters: A Symposium in Honor of Sidney Littlefield Kasfir, Emory University, April 2011.
  • “Strategies of Engagement: Contemporary Art from Africa and the Western World” Getty Institute, Oct 2009.
  • “Considering Reviews of Contemporary African Art in the U.S. Media,” SECAC, New Orleans, LA, Sept 2008.
Teaching Interests: 
  • Contemporary Art of Africa and Its Diasporas
  • The Aesthetics of Resistance: Latin American Art 1900s thru the Present
  • Topics in Contemporary Art: U.S. and Europe in Times of Transition
  • Theories and Methods of Visual Studies

 

Honors and Awards: 
  • Rhonda A. Saad Prize for Best Paper in Modern and Contemporary Arab Art, 2016
  • Associate of American University Women (AAUW) Dissertation Fellowship, 2015/16
  • UC Santa Cruz, Arts Division Summer Dissertation Fellowship, 2015
  • UC Santa Cruz, Arts Dean Graduate Student Travel/Research Grant, 2011, 2012 & 2013
  • UC Santa Cruz, Graduate Student Association Travel Grant, 2011, 2012
  • UC Santa Cruz, STARS Fellowship, 2011
  • UC Santa Cruz Chancellor’s Fellowship, 2010/11
  • Phi Beta Kappa Society
Education and Training: 
Ph.D. in Visual Studies, UC Santa Cruz
B.A. in English, Stetson University, Florida