Nancy Zastudil, Curator and Editor

I believe women are adventurous and creative all over the world, but the ones who come to Taos are looking for something specific – it seems to me that we come here in order to carve out a place for ourselves, a place that is all our own and adheres to our individual rules.

Nancy Zastudil, an itinerant curator, arrived in Taos in 2009 in order to help launch PLAND (Practice Liberating Art through Necessary Dislocation) with her two collaborators, curator Erin Elder and artist Nina Elder. This off-the-grid residency program, located in Tres Piedras (32 miles NW of Taos), supports the development of experimental and research-based projects in the context of the Taos mesa. PLAND, an experiment in living differently, was inspired by a lineage of land-based utopian visions shared with pioneers, homesteaders, and other counterculturalists. The goal for PLAND participants is to produce open-ended projects that facilitate sustainability, collaboration, and engagement with the local community.

Nancy’s personal vision for PLAND was inspired in part by her former boss and mentor Karen Farber, director of the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts at the University of Houston. From Karen she learned the value of a clear institutional vision and the power of strategic planning. Out of this working relationship, Nancy gained the necessary confidence and expertise to found and direct her own arts organization.

Nancy’s curatorial endeavors have grown out of her desire to work with artists and collectives who “operate in the service of revolution and social progress.” Since 2006 she has helped produce exhibitions in Ohio, Illinois, California and Texas ranging from The San Francisco Worlds Fair of 2007 in San Francisco to An Exhibition of Proposals for a Socialist Colony through the Skydive Office of Cultural Affairs in Houston, Texas. Her other enterprises include critical art writing and organizing public programs and events.

In New Mexico, Nancy edits two on-line art publications (listed below). She is currently preparing an outreach program as part of The Eighteenth International Symposium on Electronic Art, ISEA2012 Albuquerque: Machine Wilderness (ISEA2012) organized by 516ARTS and The University of New Mexico. As the ISEA2012 Taos Coordinator, Nancy is working alongside other ISEA2012 organizers to host a “Taos Day” around the 2012 theme “Machine Wilderness,” which examines the potential for humans, animals and machines to coexist in a positive, sustainable future. The September 27th Taos event will explore the role of art, science and technology in re-envisioning our relationship to nature.

Why Taos for Nancy? She cites the “inexplicable, magical ways” that the mountains, the deserts, the skies, and the weather affect her. She also met her partner, son of a well-known Taos painter, within two weeks of moving here.

Nancy Zastudil’s favorite Taos sites and sights:
Wired? Coffee Cyber Cafe (and owners David Stewart and Cynthia Graves, who are invested in and supportive of the community, and of PLAND); biking along the Rift Valley; the beautiful hiking trails; Taos Ski Valley.

Nancy’s recommendations for success in business:
1. Don’t waste people’s time. For example, don’t be late to a meeting, respect deadlines, adhere to schedules, etc.
2. Learn, understand and employ the power of strategy.
3. Do the same good work with or without financial support but make clear the value of your time and efforts.

For more information, visit PLAND at; ISEA2012; Temporary Art Review; 127 Prince: On the art of social practice and the social practice of art


By Elizabeth Cunningham, 2011
Blog host, “Mabel Dodge Luhan and the Remarkable Women of Taos

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