University of California Santa Cruz’s Doctoral Candidate Zoe Weldon-Yochim wins esteemed Luce/ACLS Dissertation Fellowship

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Zoe Weldon-Yochim

  • Doctoral Candidate
  • University of California, Santa Cruz


Atomic Afterlives: Visualizing Nuclear Toxicity in Art of the United States, 1979-2011


Luce/ACLS Dissertation Fellowships in American Art


History of Art and Visual Culture


“Atomic Afterlives” examines a selection of American artists whose work interrogates the aesthetic, political, and historical considerations of the U.S. nuclear program’s environmental costs some forty years after the first atomic blast. This study maps how Patrick Nagatani, Sharon Gilbert, Jack Malotte (Western Shoshone/Washoe), Richard Misrach, Zoe Strauss, Will Wilson (Diné), and Jim Sanborn visually examine connections between atomic toxicity and local mining histories, legacies of nuclear weapons testing, and global inheritances of the Cold War. This collection of works—in media such as installation, painting, photography, and print—offers the opportunity to contemplate how artists compellingly visualize and scrutinize the afterlives of nuclear energy, armaments, and wastes from the last decade of the Cold War to nearly the contemporary moment. “Atomic Afterlives” traces how these diverse visual approaches grapple with the difficulties of nuclearity and visuality, including the long-term and usually invisible slow violence of nuclear-related environmental injustices.