Old in Art School

Old in Art School

A Memoir of Starting Over

eBook - 2018 | First hardcover edition.
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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. Bringing to bear incisive insights from two careers, Painter weaves a frank, funny, and often surprising tale of her move from academia to art.
Publisher: Berkeley, California : Counterpoint, 2018.
Edition: First hardcover edition.
Copyright Date: ©2018
ISBN: 9781640090620
Characteristics: 1 online resource (198 pages)
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JessicaGma Jan 30, 2020

I heard about this book via Mason Dixon knitting and it was an interesting read. Nell Painter retired from a tenure position at Princeton and went back to art school - did she even need to go back? Why did she suffer through that MFA? It's a really different insight into being older and Black in higher education, but more importantly, how that whole art world works. That to me was the more mystifying bit of the book, based more on schtick over talent in the medium. On top of that, it seems the gatekeepers are pale, male and stale, so how does one become an Artist? Very intriguing.

Dec 05, 2019

I really really enjoyed it; the book is informative and soothing and funny and reflective about craft and the many joys and difficulties of being passionate about making art.

Sep 30, 2019

All in all, I enjoyed this book, particularly how it captured the annoyances of graduate school, especially the judgmental faculty. Glad her friends were there for her, but when you’re dealing with the difficulties of aging parents, other issues provide a needed getaway to keep you sane and going on.

Sep 16, 2019

I greatly enjoyed this memoir of Nell Painter, a 65-year-0ld Princeton history professor, who decided to leave academia and go to art school to develop her lifelong interest in painting. She covers many aspects of the journey: the conflict between historian and artist, the difficulty creating 21st century art with “twentieth-century eyes”, interests that, as a black woman with a great deal of knowledge of black culture and black art, don’t fit in to the art world, and time conflicts as a successful academic professional receiving requests and honors, and as the only daughter of ailing parents.
I’m pretty stupid about art, so I did a lot of looking things up while reading to get a better sense of the art elements. Several of her works are reproduced in small versions, which helped. I found it engaging and increased some understanding of what art is doing, as she explained her processes, why she chose the projects she did, and even a few technical elements. I never felt confused or lost, though looking things up helped a lot.

BostonPL_EileenS Aug 09, 2019

When eminent historian, Nell Painter, retired from her post at Princeton University at age 64 she went back to school to obtain a BFA and MFA in painting. A great read for anyone approaching retirement and contemplating what to do with the rest of their life.

Jul 27, 2019

Looks to be exactly what it says. I have a lot in common with Nell; but she lacks my homeless prospective. Unfortunately it was a little too big and heavy for my back pack and the print was just a bit too small. Perhaps one day I will be in a better position to read it and take advantage of the wealth of information it obviously contains. I look forward to reading it and perhaps also returning to art school and starting an art career of my own.

Jul 24, 2019

A humorous, vulnerable look at what can happen to an important historian who's been very active in her profession, well known, highly energetic, when she retires. She's loved doing art all her life, and at the age of 64, decides to do art professionally. She could do it on her own, but decides to go to art school. First she takes an undergraduate degree, then goes to the Rhode Island School of Design. Both of these, especially the latter, require some major sacrifices. She's married and lives in New Jersey. Fortunately, her husband's very supportive. Unfortunately, her father's elderly and needy and lives in California. Painter becomes a painter, trying out various modes, to find what works for her. Some teachers encourage her; some tell her she'll never be An Artist. She has the courage to tell those their view of her talent is bullshit, but she quivers inside nonetheless. Her honesty, vulnerability, and joy in the process of making her art are wonderful. Can't say I always love the results of her art making, but she's a wonderful writer, and I loved the book. Graded her down not because of her art, but because sometimes I couldn't follow what she was trying to say about it. A very courageous, creative soul.

Nov 15, 2018

I loved this look into the process of making art and the business of the Art World from a semi-insider, semi-outsider: a decorated historian who decided, in her mid-60s, to pursue a serious art degree, eventually earning an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design. The author is a sharp, engaging narrator who doesn't demand a strict plot or narrative through-line of her own experience, which I think makes the book as a whole much stronger. Highly recommended.

Nov 11, 2018

I'm glad I stuck with this book for the insight at the end, but I spent most of the book being annoyed with the author.

IndyPL_EllenF Oct 23, 2018

Being a "woman of a certain age" and an artist, I was intrigued by Painter's path through academic art as opposed to simply being an artist. She has a compelling turn of phrase, concise and emotional at the same time. It has helped me see my own path to art more clearly and to enjoy those who choose a more lettered path.

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