Nell Irvin Painter was a professor of American History at Princeton University for 20 years. Upon retiring, she enrolled in art school, and is now a practicing artist in Newark, NJ and the recently appointed chair of MacDowell, one of the nation’s leading contemporary arts organizations. In 2006, State of the Arts produced a profile of Nell at a critical juncture: she was still teaching an occasional class at Princeton, was enrolled full-time at Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers, and was writing The History of White People, which went on to become a New York Times bestseller. Nell talks frankly about being the oldest student in art school, and what led her to take on a challenging new career. (In 2018, she published Old in Art School: A Memoir of Starting Over.)

Nell Painter was also featured in the State of the Arts feature “I Might Be Next.”

Produced by Amber Edwards for State of the Arts.
Thumbnail photo courtesy of The Newark Artists Photo Documentary Project: Portraits of Visual Artists in Newark, New Jersey