BIPOC Women: Nell Painter

23May2022

Book club discussion of Painter's memoir about attending art school after retiring from academia

From 5.30 pm until 6.30 pm

SPL book club meets on the fourth Monday of every month. 2022 is a yearlong exploration of recently published books by BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, people of color) women. Titles alternate between fiction and nonfiction. To join our Zoom discussions, register below.

Old in Art School: A Memoir of Starting Over by Nell Painter

How are women, and artists, "seen" and judged by their age, race, and looks? And how does this seeing change, depending upon what is asked of the viewer? What does it mean when someone states (as one teacher does) that "you will never be an Artist"—who defines "an Artist," 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 represents an ongoing exploration of such questions, one that ultimately honors curiosity, openness, and joy—the joy of embracing creativity, dreams, the importance of hard work, and the stubborn determination of your own value. Nell Irvin Painter's journey is filled with surprises, even as she brings to bear the incisiveness of her insights from two careers, which combine in new ways even as they take very different approaches—one searching for facts and cohesion, the other seeking the opposite. She travels from her beloved Newark to the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design; finds meaning in the artists she loves, such as Alice Neel, Faith Ringgold, or Maira Kalman, even as she comes to understand how they are undervalued; and struggles with the ever-changing balance between the pursuit of art and the inevitable, sometimes painful demands of a life fully lived.

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