Nina Elder, an artist who specializes in drawing and painting pieces about land use, will be giving a talk this Thursday on “Processing Place” at the Tamarind Institute. Elder will discuss her travels, artwork and how she relates to place. The event will display some of her artwork, as well.
“The work that I’m printing at Tamarind is looking at the historic moments when individual surveyors would go out into the land with a pickaxe and a shovel,” Elder said. ”They’d be isolated and would strike a vein of gold or copper and there would often be this single stone that would prove that element (was there). Then they would literally take that to the bank and try to get funding to expand on a larger mine. The images I’m depicting at Tamarind are from those early historic photographs of that single stone that then ended up impacting our global economy.”
Other projects Elder said she has been working on lately are focused in Alaska, where she will be traveling later this year. She will be working on two projects: one regarding a giant mining corporation, and the other regarding Native Americans’ perspective on climate change.
“To me, the whole goal of being an artist is to draw attention to how all of the elements of our daily lives come from the earth,” Elder said. “Whether it’s through mining or timber industry or oil extraction and movement, or farming, every single element of our lives comes from the earth. I endeavor to make very beautiful work and work that’s somewhat enticing so that people want to spend time in that contemplative space looking at the impacts we’ve have on the environment.”
Elder said that she often does public talks in the vein of Thursday’s event. She said she is in the middle of a two-year long tour of North America for research and residencies and she always tries to speak wherever she goes.
The talks help convey ideas that do not necessarily get across in her artwork, she said, adding that her travels have been vital to her research.
“I think all kinds of knowledge is information,” Elder said. “Our body holds knowledge and the way we interact with the world is a performance of our knowledge, so to go and physically experience these impacted places helps me gain all those different kinds of knowledge.”
Elder said that she travels to many remote places, from Alaska and the Arctic to the U.S.-Mexican border and the Rockies.
“I just finished doing this residency at the Tamarind Institute, which is one of the world’s most renowned lithography presses,” Elder said.
She added that lithography is a new process for her and that it provided her with a good metaphor.
Elder is excited for talking about her experience working with the lithographers at the Tamarind Institute as well as talking with the UNM community, especially seeing as she is a alumna.
“Just knowing what it’s like to be a student here and then to come back as a visiting artist has been pretty special,” Elder said.
She said her talk will also include stories about people she has met in her travels.
“There’s a lot of human interaction in my process, so it’s important for me to share those stories,” Elder said. “And then I’m just interested in talking to people about my life. I have a very unique life — not a lot of people are traveling around and doing what I’m doing, so I’m really just interested in talking and dialogue as much as sharing my experience. A lot of times people have pieces of information that I find interesting and then that becomes part of my research and will slightly redirect my path.”
The free event will start at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday at the Tamarind Institute.
Ariel Lutnesky is a freelance reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ariellutnesky.