Old In Art School: Book summary and reviews of Old In Art School by Nell Painter

Old In Art School

A Memoir of Starting Over

by Nell Painter

Old In Art School by Nell Painter X
Old In Art School by Nell Painter
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  • Published Jun 2018
    352 pages
    Genre: Biography/Memoir

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Book Summary

Bringing to bear incisive insights from two careers, Painter weaves a frank, funny, and often surprising tale of her move from academia to art.

Following her retirement from Princeton University, celebrated historian Dr. Nell Irvin Painter surprised everyone in her life by returning to school - in her sixties- to earn a BFA and MFA in painting. In Old in Art School, she travels from her beloved Newark to the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design; finds meaning in the artists she loves, even as she comes to understand how they may be undervalued; and struggles with the unstable balance between the pursuit of art and the inevitable, sometimes painful demands of a life fully lived.

How are women and artists seen and judged by their age, looks, and race? What does it mean when someone says, "You will never be an artist"? Who defines what "An Artist" is and all that goes with such an identity, and how are these ideas tied to our shared conceptions of beauty, value, and difference?

Old in Art School is Nell Painter's ongoing exploration of those crucial questions.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. This is a courageous, intellectually stimulating, and wholly entertaining story of one woman reconciling two worlds and being open to the possibilities and changes life offers." - Publishers Weekly

"A spirited chronicle of transformation and personal triumph." - Kirkus

"Old in Art School is a glorious achievement - bighearted and critical, insightful and entertaining. This book is a cup of courage for everyone who wants to change their lives." - Tayari Jones, author of An American Marriage and Silver Sparrow

"Nell Painter's masterful, disarmingly witty, and profound book Old in Art School will change your perspective about what is possible in the full arc of a life. Her probing book about [her] art school journey, as sage as it is humorous, revels in the untold magic of exploring how beginnings can happen at all stages of the journey. This book is indispensable nourishment for the creative soul." - Sarah Lewis, Harvard University, author of The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery

"Nell Painter has courage and intelligence. She reminds us that the only option as we grow older is to grow younger. Never forgetting our curiosity and passion, we are well armed for the challenge." - Maira Kalman, author of The Principles of Uncertainty and Beloved Dog

"Painter blows up treasured clichés about what it means to be 'an artist' and who fits that role, presenting us with comic scenes of questionable pedagogy. This book should have a corrective impact on art education - it deserves to be widely read and hotly discussed!" - Joyce Kozloff, artist

"Even before a teacher tells her, 'You'll never be an artist,' Painter's story wins us over with its contrarian premise. Among twenty-somethings, Painter proves herself a sharp observer - not just of art school partying, pedagogy, and process, but also of generational, sexual, and racial blind spots. Painter has produced a cheerful and beguiling memoir, one that will inspire readers of any age to consider starting again." - Alexi Worth, artist

"Reading Nell Painter's Old in Art School gave me immense pleasure. Memoirs by black women artists are extremely rare, and this one is so beautifully written, so perfectly formed in terms of its storytelling trajectory, with so many delectable details about art techniques and subject matter, the relationship of the work to her previous projects as a celebrated historian, and her life struggles as the daughter of once-perfect parents, now aged and with health difficulties. Old in Art School seems both definitive and unforgettable." - Michele Wallace, author of Dark Designs and Visual Culture

"One of our most distinguished scholars of race and racism has written an incisive, surprising, eloquent, and often wry account of what it means to go back to school at 64, the age at which most academics contemplate retiring from it...Old in Art School is as edgy as a contemporary work of art: bold in form, assured in line and shape, unflinching in its textured analysis of the ways race, gender, and age color how we perceive the world and how the world perceives us." - Cathy N. Davidson, author of The New Education: How to Revolutionize the University to Prepare Students for a World in Flux

This information about Old In Art School was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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More Information

Nell Irvin Painter is the Edwards Professor of American History, Emerita, at Princeton University. Her acclaimed works of history include Standing at Armageddon, Sojourner Truth, and the New York Times bestseller The History of White People, which have received widespread attention for their insights into how we have historically viewed and translated ideas of gender, value, hierarchy, and race. She holds an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and a BFA from Mason Gross School of the Arts. Her visual artwork has been shown at numerous galleries and in many collections, including the San Angelo Museum of Fine Art, the Brooklyn Historical Society, and Gallery Aferro. She lives in Newark, New Jersey and the Adirondacks.

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