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2013 - 2021


In the early 1900s, deep in the wilds of Alaska, the Guggenheims and Morgans formed the Kennecott Corporation in order to mine an astounding amount of copper from giant mountains. This feat allowed for the expansion of the utilities grid across the US and led to the prevalence of multinational corporations. In 2014, Nina began researching the Kennecott Corporation to illuminate how humans depend on mining, extraction, and the invisible power of global corporations. This research involves intense physical exploration and community engagement and takes form as drawings, narrative presentations, and published writing.



This project is made possible with support Polar Lab initiative at the Anchorage Museum and the Wrangell Mountains Center.


10 minute looping video 

Hannah Perrine Mode - videographer

Tongue Stones depicts Nina Elder’s futile attempt to gain intimacy, knowledge, and empathy with geologic materials by forcing them into her mouth. Filmed at the edge of a receding glacier in Alaska, this video is an inquiry into displaced and disregarded materials. In Tongue Stones, Nina embodies and implicates herself in the legacies of disruption, extraction, and neglect that shape the American Western landscape. 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 Tongue Stones connotes the carved stones that are placed in the mouths of the dead in many cultures.

nonlinear research 

Nonlinear Research is an evolving narrative presentation that weaves together unlikely associations between piles of rocks, military secrets, climate change, obsolete communication technology, her family, meteorites, and the need for curiosity. Learn more.


These drawings depict Kennecott Corporation, and their subsidiaries, international mines. The scale and detail of this act as a meditation and revelation of the often unseen underpinnings of consumer culture. See more drawings.

ERRATIC 2017-2019

As a book, online publication, and gallery installation, Erratic is an existential exploration into what is being carried within the self and what a life leaves behind. Learn more.


Cinematographer Leanne Phelps captures Nina’s insight into Alaska, time, mining, and climate change from within an ice cave.