In Discussion with Nell Irvin Painter: Historian and Artist

March 11, 2021 11:00 am



Ticket Price: Free

Join us a for a engaging discussion with this prolific author, artist and scholar.

Nell Irvin Painter had a very successful career as a leading United States historian. She earned her doctorate in history from Harvard University and honorary degrees from Wesleyan, Dartmouth, SUNY-New Paltz and Yale. She taught for several decades at Princeton University and along the way became a noted and award-winning scholar, lecturer and author. Her recent books include “The History of White People” (2010), “Creating Black Americans: African American History and Its Meanings, 1619 to the Present” (2006) and “Southern History Across the Colored Line” (2002). 

When she retired from academia, Painter was the Edwards Professor of American History at Princeton University. She then bravely switched gears at the age of 67 and pursued a degree in studio art from Rutgers University and a Master in Fine Arts from the Rhode Island School of Design. 

Nell Irvin Painter, the historian became Nell Painter, the artist. As Dr. Painter puts it, “After a life of historical truth and political engagement with American Society, my artwork represents freedom. Including the freedom to be totally self-centered.”

With her thesis project, “Art History According to Nell Painter,” she used collage to take images of figures from black history, attaching bold and abstract patterns and distorting them with digital photo manipulation tools and text – thus converging art with history. Self-portraiture is central to Painter’s art. Using found images and digital manipulation, she re-envisions herself through self portraits. Mia owns Painter’s “You Say This Can’t Really Be America” 2017, Color inkjet print with screen printing on paper.

Since embarking on her artistic career, Painter has garnered shows, fellowships and residencies. In January 2020, Painter was appointed Chair of the MacDowell Board of Directors. Located in Peterborough NH, MacDowell is one of the country’s leading contemporary arts organizations. MacDowell awards more than 300 competitive Fellowships working in seven disciplines each year. Painter herself is a two-time MacDowell Fellow, in 2016 and 2019.

Nell Irvin Painter, scholar and artist, is a shining example of, “It’s never too late.”

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April is Environment Awareness Month so make sure to save the date for the Friends April 8th Lecture, “A Morning Conversation with Terry Tempest Williams”

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