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  • Elder’s large-scale, realistic drawings are made using site-specific pigments, including radioactive charcoal, pulverized guns, glacial silt and stardust

  • As part of her artistic research and practice, Elder has backpacked into mines, travelled to Arctic Cold War military sites, and obtained government clearance to tour the Nevada Nuclear Test Site

  • From 2009-2013, Elder co-founded and ran an off-the-grid artist residency program called PLAND (Practice Liberating Art through Necessary Dislocation): a multidisciplinary organization that supported the development of experimental and research-based projects through a variety of on and off-site programs

  • Elder is known for large scale-murals and public artworks that utilize crowd-sourced stream-of-consciousness list-making as a way to think through various concepts, reflecting the values of the collaborating communities

  • Elder’s polymathic art practice fosters relationships between artists, scientists and diverse communities


Anthropocene & Posthumanism; Anti-Racism, Black Lives Matter & Racial Inequality; Climate Change; Democracy & Capitalism; Empathy; Equality & Equity; Extractivism, Deforestation & Desertification; Indigenous Practices; Military Industrial Complex; Post-/Anti-Colonialism & Decolonization; Resilience, Wellness & Mental Health; Science, Technology, Data & Mapping

Artist and researcher Nina Elder creates projects that reveal humanity’s dependence on, and interruption of, the natural world. She examines historic land use and its cycles of production, consumption, and waste. Mines, bombing ranges, and junk heaps are source material for her landscape paintings and representational drawings that explore the line between land and landscape, beauty and banality. 


With a focus on changing cultures and ecologies, Elder advocates for collaboration, fostering relationships between institutions, artists, scientists and diverse communities. She is the co-founder of the Wheelhouse Institute, a women’s climate leadership initiative. Nina lectures as a visiting artist/scholar at universities, develops publicly engaged programs, and consults with organizations that seek to grow through interdisciplinary programming. 


Nina’s artwork is widely exhibited and has been featured in Art in America, VICE Magazine, and on PBS. Her research has been supported by the Andy Warhol Foundation, the Rauschenberg Foundation Award for Arts & Activism, the Pollock Krasner Foundation, and the Mellon Foundation. She has recently held positions as an Art + Environment Research Fellow at the Nevada Museum of Art, a Polar Lab Research Fellow at the Anchorage Museum, and a Researcher-in-Residence in the Art and Ecology Program at the University of New Mexico. She is based in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

I travel to some of the most environmentally impacted, geographically distant, and economically important places on the globe where I research how the natural environment is changing through human-centered activities.

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