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  • Natalie Marsh

Artist News: Nina Elder

ViVA Artist Nina Elder has been very busy throughout the winter. The current exhibition FOREST⇌FIRE is on view through June 2022 at the Truckee Community Recreation Center in Truckee, California. FOREST⇌FIRE is an interdisciplinary, multi-sensory installation connecting art, the humanities and science that flows thematically through past, present and future. Utilizing painting, textiles, beadwork, sculpture, photography and more, the project tells the story of the Forest ecology and its relationship with Fire. Nina’s drawings imagine the subterranean realm of overgrown forests, evidencing the stressed systems and competition that colonialism has brought into the very soil of this country.

On view through April 19: the video work Tongue Stones at the Southern Utah Museum of Art. Tongue Stones depicts the artist’s futile attempt to gain intimacy, knowledge, and empathy with geologic materials by forcing them into her mouth. By stretching herself beyond capacity, she manifests the exploitation and voracity that emboldens capitalism, and the overburdening that creates trauma in human and ecological bodies. The title connotes the carved stones that are placed in the mouths of the dead in many cultures.

If you are in Albuquerque you may want to visit City Hall to see Nina’s new mural entitled An Incomplete List of Everything in Albuquerque. The Department of Cultural Services invited Nina to fill the sixth floor wall with a mural that encompasses a handwritten list of a wide variety of places, people, and phenomena that define the city.

Three other recent exhibitions wrapped up in late December and January. Uplift at Waterfall Arts in Belfast, Maine was a solo multi-media exploration of the act of lifting, as explored through several drawings inspired by the technologies of cradling and carrying boats in coastal Maine. The work abstracts what is being uplifted through asking viewers to meditate on the kinds of invisible emotional lifting we all do. Overburden, a video installation debuted as part of this exhibition. It considered the multiple definitions of the term “overburden,” which can refer to a weight that is too great for someone to carry. It doubles as a term for the geologic material that is removed to expose a desired underground material.

The group exhibition This Earth: Notes and Observations by Montello Foundation Artists at Southern Utah Museum of Art in Cedar City featured Nina’s work alongside other artists “who foster our understanding of nature, its fragility and our need to protect it”; a centerpiece of the Foundation’s mission. The multi-media exhibition encouraged visitors to explore four key themes – “Observing Nature, In Dialog with Nature, Human Interactions with Nature and Preserving Nature” – as reflected in the work of artists who had themselves been impacted by the flora and fauna of the Great Basin.

Finally, on January 31st, Nina’s projected video work entitled It Will Not Be The Same, But It Might Be Beautiful, produced in collaboration with Michael Conti, closed at the Anchorage Museum. Each day during the run of this installation on the facade of the museum, the 3-channel video began at sunset and ended at midnight, and centered on puzzle stones: rocks that have been shattered by rapid temperature shifts and retreating glaciers.

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