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 NKA, Third Text, Savvy, and African Arts.
Ph.D., Interim Director, Institute of the Arts and Sciences