Nina Elder is an artist, adventurer, and arts administrator. She grew up in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and New Mexico where she cultivated love for the land and curiosity about its use. After earning an MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute, Nina returned to northern New Mexico where she co-founded an off-the-grid artist residency program called PLAND: Practice Liberating Art through Necessary Dislocation followed by several years as the Residency Program Director at the Santa Fe Art Institute. Nina’s work is exhibited and collected nationally, and has been supported by the Andy Warhol Foundation, the Rauschenburg Foundation, and the Pollock Krasner Foundation. 

Nina 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. She has backpacked into mines, travelled to Arctic Cold War military sites, and obtained government clearance to tour the Nevada Nuclear Test Site. She has drawn with radioactive charcoal, ore from mines, and dam silt. Her personal experience of research is reflected through performative, narrative presentations that are equal parts travel log, artist talk, personal story-sharing, and scientific inquiry, as well as a call for greater curiosity and engagement with the world.



1981 in Colorado Springs, Colorado



2009 MFA in Painting, San Francisco Art Institute

2004     BFA in Painting, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM summa cum laude


Selected Press

Erratic Monuments to a Melting World, Edge Effects, UW Madison, 2017

Nina Elder: New Works, THE Magazine, 2017

66 Mile Radius, film by Melinda Frame, 2017

NINA ELDER, ¡COLORES! New Mexico PBS, 2016

Polar Lab, Anchorage Art Museum Press, 2015

The Universe of Nina Elder, THE Magazine, 2015

Mining Northern New Mexico, ArtSlant, 2014

The Inconceivable Atomic Legacy Of New Mexico, Vice Magazine, 2014

A Landscape of Industry: An Interview with Nina Elder, New American Paintings, 2013


Selected Exhibitions

2018   Vanishing Point: Tracking the Retreat of Glacial Ice, Vernissage Fine Art, Portland, OR

Currency, 516 Arts, Albuquerque, NM

           Inner Orbit, Form + Concept, Santa Fe, NM

           Hot Spots: Radioactivity and the Landscape, University of Buffalo Art Museum

2017   66 Mile Radius, Tamarind Institute, Albuquerque, NM

           form + concept, Santa Fe, NM

           Nina Elder, Central Features, Albuquerque, NM (solo) 

2016   Vanishing Beauty, Portsmouth Art and Cultural Center, Portsmouth, VA

Polar Lab, Anchorage Art Museum, Anchorage AK

Atomic Landscapes, IDEA Space, Colorado Springs, CO

Transmissions, Mid America Arts Alliance (5 year traveling exhibition)

2015   RULE:MARFA, Rule Gallery, Marfa, TX

Lode, Central Features, Albuquerque, NM (solo)

Axle Indoors, Gerald Peters Projects, Santa Fe, NM

2014  Overlook, Rule Gallery/Carmen Wiedenhoeft Gallery, Denver, CO (solo)

Landlessness, Ortega y Gasset Projects, Brooklyn, NY

Art for a Silent Planet: Blaustein, Elder, and Long, Harwood Museum of Art, Taos, NM

Renga Project, Axle Contemporary, Santa Fe, NM

2013   Transmissions, Marin County Foundation, CA

Disaster/Resilience, Harwood Art Center, Albuquerque, NM

Power Line, InPost Art Space, Albuquerque, NM (solo)

Atomic Surplus, Center for Contemporary Art, Santa Fe, NM

Marred Landscapes: Recent Paintings and Drawings, Oats Park Arts Center, Fallon, NV (solo)

2012  Taos Contemporary, Center for Visual Arts, Denver, CO

New Mexico Showcase, 516 Arts, Albuquerque, NM

2011    New Mexorado, The Harwood Museum of Art, Taos, NM

2010  Cream From The Top: The Best of the Bay Area MFAs, Richmond Art Center, CA

Compelled, Root Division, San Francisco, CA

2009  LAB>, Queens Nails Projects, San Francisco, CA

Selections from The Ray Graham Collection, The Dahl Art Center, Rapid City, SD

Rayfuse, Apex Gallery, South Dakota School of Mines, Rapid City, SD

Vernissage: MFA Graduate Exhibition, Herbst Pavilion in Fort Mason, San Francisco, CA

Ridiculous Meticulous, Swell Gallery, San Francisco, CA

2008  Negotiations, Clara Street Projects, San Francisco, CA 

2006  Exhaust, Richard Levy Gallery, Albuquerque, NM (solo)

2005  Bloc-Busta, Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Taos, NM (multi-venue exhibition)

2004  Plant: Industrial Landscapes of the American Southwest, John Sommers Gallery, Albuquerque, NM (solo)

2003  UNSALTED, Trevor Lucero Studio, Albuquerque, NM

Fruition, John Sommers Gallery, Albuquerque, NM



2018 City State Residency, Indianapolis 

2017  Ucross

2017   Klondike Institute for Arts and Culture

2017   Vermont Studio Center

2017   Tamarind Press

2017   ISLAND Institute Tidelines

2016-2017 Sitka Center for Arts and Ecology

2016   Grinnell College

2016   Wrangell Mountain Center

2016   Willowtail Springs

2015   Chulitna Wilderness Residency

2015   Polar Lab

2015   United World College

2014   Polar Lab

2013   Signal Fire

2012   Goldwell Open Air Museum

2012   Playa Summer Lake

2011    Libre, Colorado

2010   Art Ranch Texas

2009   Montana Artists Refuge


University Lectures and Visiting Artist Experience

University of Wisconsin, Madison

Emily Carr University, Vancouver

Harvard University

Grinnell College

Colorado College

University of Colorado

Bennington College

Rhode Island School of Design

University of New Mexico

California Academy of Art, San Francisco

California College of the Arts

San Francisco Art Institute

Southern Methodist University, Taos

University of New Mexico


Awards and Honors

2018-2019 Mellon Foundation Artist in Residence, Art and Ecology, University of New Mexico

2018-2020, Center for Art + Environment Research Fellow, Nevada Museum of Art

2018 Researcher in Residence, Anchorage Museum

2017 Pollock-Krasner Award

2016 Vermont Studio Center Residency Fellowship

2014 - 2015   Polar Lab Fellowship, Anchorage Museum

2013   Creative Capital, Finalist

2012   Graham Foundation, Grant Recipient

2010   Andy Warhol Foundation: Idea Fund, Grant Recipient

2009   Montana Artists Refuge, San Francisco Art Institute Graduate Fellow

2007   San Francisco Art Institute, Graduate Grant Recipient


Public Collections

The University of New Mexico Art Museum 

Fidelity Investments Corporate Collection

The Albuquerque Museum

The Oats Park Art Center

The Harwood Museum

Ray Graham

Graze and Gulp by Jennifer James


Gallery Representation

Central Features, Albuquerque, NM


Professional Experience

Consultant, Cricket Institute, ongoing

Co-Founder and Co-Director, Wheelhouse Institute, ongoing

Co-leader, Signal Fire, ongoing

Residency Program Manager, Santa Fe Art Institute, Santa Fe, NM 2013 - 2016

Co-Founder and Co-Director, PLAND, Tres Piedras, NM, 2009 - 2014