Staff and Fellows

Rachel Nelson (she/her), PhD, is Director of UC Santa Cruz Institute of the Arts and Sciences (IAS), and teaches in the History of Art and Visual Culture department.  Nelson has curated and organized exhibitions including Barring Freedom, a group exhibition engaging art, prisons, and justice; Carlos Motta: We The Enemy; Futurefarmers: Fog Inquiry; jackie sumell: Solitary Garden; Newton Harrison and Helen Mayer Harrison: Future Garden, and other projects with artists including Ursula Biemann and Paulo Tavares, Angela Melitopoulos... [more]

Gina Dent (she/her), Associate Professor, Feminist Studies, History of Consciousness, and Legal Studies, UCSC, is a committed activist, scholar, and educator. Abolition. Feminism. Now. (May 2021, Haymarket Press) co-authored by Dent with Angela Davis, Beth Richie, and Erica Meiners, grows out of her work as an advocate for human rights and prison abolition. She is the editor of Black Popular Culture, and author of numerous articles on race, feminism, popular culture, and visual art.

Jennifer A. González (she/her), is Professor in the History of Art and Visual Culture and is also a faculty member of the Whitney Independent Study Program, New York. Her research engages political and theoretical discourses and their intersection with critical race scholarship on contemporary art. Her publications appear in, Camera Obscura, Bomb, Open Space, Art Journal, Aztlán the Journal of the Archives of American Art and in numerous exhibition catalogs such as Jimmy Durham: At the Center of the World (2017).

Lindsey Tavares-Sabido (she/her), Program Coordinator, is a project weaver, strategic organizer, digital content creator, and dog mom. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Legal Studies and Politics from UC Santa Cruz (UCSC) in March 2021, where she graduated with highest honors.

Aaron Samuel Mulenga (he/him), Graduate Research Fellow, is a Visual Studies Ph.D. student at the University of California, Santa Cruz. His area of study includes contemporary art of Africa, post-colonial theory and the roles that museums play in shaping cultural narratives. Mulenga is a multi-disciplined artist with a keen interest in sculptural forms and installation. Mulenga uses his art practice to inform aspects of his doctoral research process.

Madison Treece (she/her), Graduate Research Fellow, is a Ph.D. candidate in Visual Studies in the History of Art and Visual Culture Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her work focuses on contemporary Chicanx art and visual culture with an emphasis on borderlands, landscape, and the politics of migration. Madison holds an M.A. in Art History and Museum Studies from Tufts University and a B.A. in Art History from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Heather Layman (she/her), Undergraduate Intern, is a fourth-year undergraduate triple major student studying Anthropology, History, and History of Art and Visual Culture. Some recurring themes in her studies include 20th century American history, United States imperialism, museum and curatorial theory, and cultural resource management in the United States. She hopes to go on to enroll in a costume history and textile studies graduate program, because her greatest interest is fashion and costume exhibition.

Marlena De Castro (she/they), Undergraduate Intern, is a fourth-year undergraduate double-major student studying Politics and Feminist Studies. She is passionate about activism and abolitionist feminism. In addition to her work at IAS, she works at the UCSC Womxn’s Center where the aim is to create a community that highlights diversity and aims for social change.

Louise Leong (she/her), UC Santa Cruz Mary Porter Sesnon Art Gallery Manager and Museum Preparator/ IAS Affiliate, is an artist, educator, and museum professional. She is a 2017 and 2020 Rydell Visual Arts Fellowship Nominee and has exhibited her work internationally, regionally in the San Francisco Bay Area and locally in Santa Cruz. She holds a bachelor's degree in Studio Art and Education from UC Santa Cruz.