Old In Art School PDF Free Download

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

Nell Painter’s Memoir — Exciting New Reviews and Interviews!
See more below — Reviews, Interviews, Book Excerpts, Praise, and Contacts

  • Nell is interviewed by the Kansas City Star newspaper on Oct. 30, 2020: 'At 67, she could have retired, but instead she reinvented herself. It wasn’t easy.' before an on-line conversation with the Kansas City Public Library on Nov. 16; and as the Library's 'book-of-the-moment selection', Kaite Mediatore Stover, the library’s director of readers’ services, will lead an online discussion of “Old in Art School” by Nell Painter Jan. 7 from the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art (email Stover at [email protected] for details on joining in).
  • Interview with Boston Review: 'The Historian’s Art', Jonathan M. Square, Walter Johnson, Nell Painter. Jonathan M. Square, the curator of Nell's 2 recent exhibits at Harvard University, introduces the conversation between Nell and Walter Johnson (Harvard historian and Nell’s former student) (posted January 6, 2020)
  • Publication of the paperback edition of Old in Art School kicks off at the Strand Bookstore on Wednesday, August 28 at 7 pm
  • National Book Critics Circle Announces Finalists for 2018 Awards:Old in Art School is one of the six finalists for the autobiography category for outstanding books of 2018. The National Book Critics Circle honors the best books published in the past year in the United States. (It is considered one of the most prestigious awards in the publishing industry.) (January 22, 2019)
  • Nell Irvin Painter returned to RISD to discuss her 2018 memoir Old in Art School: 'Painter on Being Old in Art School' (posted March 4, 2019 on RISD News/Stories website). Here is a link to the text on our site.
  • Time magazine includes Old in Art School as one of the 'Best Memoirs of 2018 So Far' (August 28, 2018)
  • PBS Newshour interviews Nell — 'A historian tells the story of her 'second act, becoming an art student' — July 23, 2018 (38 minutes in)
  • The Washington Post reviews Old in Art School — July 17, 2018
  • CNN features Old in Art School in their summer book roundup — July 17, 2018
  • Book Review in The New York Times — June 20, 2018 (and one of NYT's Editor's Choice in new books, June 28, 2018)
  • Featured on Oprah's list of O's Top Books of Summer
  • NPR Interview with Scott Simon

Buy Old in Art School
See the Order links on COUNTERPOINT PRESS (Amazon, INDIEBOUND, and Barnes & Noble)


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

  • Time (magazine) includes Old in Art School as one of the best memoirs of 2018 to date (August 28, 2018)
    'Best Memoirs of 2018 So Far,' by Annabel Gutterman
  • The Washington Post reviews Old in Art School — July 17, 2018
  • CNN features Old in Art School in their summer book roundup — July 17, 2018
  • Review in The New York Times:
    'Seeing the Art World Through Personal and Political Lenses' June 20, 2018
  • One of New York Times Editor's Choice in new books, June 28, 2018
  • Review in The Boston Globe, June 29, 2018:
    'A portrait of the artist as an older woman' (PDF of review)
  • O's Top Books of Summer — Oprah's list of summer's best books on Oprah.com
  • Starred review from Publishers' Weekly
  • Starred review from Library Journal
  • Starred review from Foreword Review (pdf of advance copy)
  • Review from Kirkus (June 9, 2018)
  • Review from Women's Review of Books, Vol. 35, No. 3, May/June 2018 (pdf)
  • Buzzfeed has featured Old in Art School on their summer reading list (May 14, 2018)
  • Hyperallergic's review (May 30, 2018)
  • Review in The Undefeated Books section: 'In new memoir, a pathbreaking historian of ‘whiteness’ recounts her attempt to be a Serious Artist: ‘Old in Art School,’ Nell Irvin Painter is humbled but also enlightened' (June 18, 2018)
  • Review in BookPage (Top Pick in Nonfiction, July 2018): 'Old in Art School—Paint by numbers'
  • Entertainment Weekly: Old in Art School is one of '20 new books to read in June' (June 19, 2018)
  • TIMEreview: 'This Woman Went to Art School in Her 60s, Proving It’s Never Too Late to Pivot' (on Time.com, and published in the July 02, 2018 issue of TIME
  • Included in Los Angeles Times 'A short and satisfying summer books preview' (June 1, 2018)
  • An article in Artsy magazine, reviewing and discussing Old in Art School: Is Art School Only for the Young?' (June 24, 2018)
  • Review in the San Francisco Chronicle: ‘Old in Art School: A Memoir of Starting Over,’ by Nell Painter (July 6, 2018)
  • Hello Giggles included Old in Art School in a roundup of life-changing memoirs: '11 life-changing new memoirs you need to read this summer' (July 24, 2018)
  • Newsdayreposts The Washington Post review (website July 26, 2018, to appear in print edition Sunday, Aug. 5, 2018)
  • WAMU's The Kojo Nnamdi Show segment: '2018 Summer Reading: Recommendations From Notable Washingtonians.' E. Ethelbert Miller, D.C. poet and literary activist, recommends Old in Art School.
  • New Jersey Monthly review, “Historian Finds Freedom in Art” (October 18, 2018, October 2018 issue)
  • Albuquerque Journal review—“A fresh start” (October 21, 2018)
  • The Wall Street Journal features Old in Art School in “The Best Books of 2018 on Aging Well—These authors offer insights and strategies on how to make your later years meaningful” (website November 20, 2018)
  • The Nation reviews Old in Art School:“A Second Education—The art of Nell Painter,” by Jillian Steinhauer (Issue December 17-24, 2018; website November 20, 2018)
  • San Francisco Chronicle chooses Old in Art School as one of the best books of the year: “Holiday gift guide: novels, memoirs, cookbooks and more” (December 5, 2018)
  • The poet Ross Gay recommends Old in Art School in an interview with LitHub.com (Literary Hub):
    'Ross Gay: Five Books of Delight—the author of The Book of Delights shares five books in his life' (February 19, 2019)
  • Letitia Montgomery-Rodgers reviews Old in Art School for Foreword Reviews (July/August 2018)


  • PBS Newshour interviews Nell — 'A historian tells the story of her 'second act, becoming an art student' — July 23, 2018 (38 minutes in)
  • NPR Interview with Scott Simon,
    June 16, 2018 — Heard on Weekend Edition Saturday
    '‘Old In Art School’: An MFA Inspires A Memoir Of Age'
  • Interview with the American Association of University Women (July17, 2018)
  • Interview with Press-Republican, newspaper of Clinton, Essex and Franklin Counties, NY (Plattsburgh, NY):
    'Report on an encore career by a celebrated historian—Following retirement, Nell Painter pursued BFA, MFA in art school in her 60s', By Robin Caudell (June 13, 2018)
  • BookPage Interview with Nell Painter (July 2018)
  • The Atlantic Interview: 'The Wisdom of Going Back to School in Retirement—The historian Nell Painter discusses her lifelong love of art, and how it felt to finally pursue her dream after she left the workplace' by Lolade Fadulu (June 22, 2018)
  • The Millions (online literary magazine) interview (June 28, 2018):
    'I Make What I Want: The Millions Interviews Nell Painter'
  • The Seattle Times interview/review (June 29, 2018):
    'Nell Irvin Painter segues from history professor to artist, at age 64'
  • Interview with Reagan Jackson on the Seattle Globalist (July 6, 2018):
    'Reinventing yourself: a conversation with Dr. Nell Irvin Painter'
  • KCRW audio interview — Press Play with Madeleine Brand (July 5, 2018):
    'Nell Painter on being ‘old’ in art school' (14 min. 23 sec segment)
  • Interview with Kate Tuttle for DAME Magazine: 'Nell Painter Talks to DAME About What it’s Like to be ‘Old in Art School’ ' (July 19, 2018)
  • Interview with PBS's Next Avenue: 'She Traded Retirement for Two Degrees in Art' (July 25, 2018)
  • Blog post by Mikepasini.com about Nell's interview with PBS Newshour (on July 23, 2018): Nell Painter: 'A Hot Young Artist' (July 25, 2018)
  • Interview with Lisa Peet for Bloom literary site: 'An Artist Artist: Nell Irvin Painter on Old in Art School' (August 7, 2018)
  • Interview with Anne Branigin for The Root online magazine: 'Old in Art School: Nell Painter Paints a Refreshing Portrait of What Coming-of-Age Can Look Like' (August 14, 2018)
  • Conversation with Omkari Williams for the Stepping Into Truth podcast (link on https://itunes.apple), “Talking race, age, and art with Nell Painter” (September 4, 2018)
  • Interview with Mark Lynch of WICN Public Radio, Worcester, MA “Inquiry: Nell Painter—Old in Art School” (podcast, September 5, 2018)
  • Interview with Robin Lindley/History News Network “A Distinguished History Professor Retires—Then Goes to Art School” (October 5, 2018)
  • The Atlantic's 'New Old Age 2018' summit event: video of Nell's session 'The Art of Act Two—Nell Painter, Author, Old in Art School: A Memoir of Starting Over With Gillian White, The Atlantic (October 25, 2018)
  • Interview with the Princeton Alumni Weekly podcast (the PAWcast) “PAWcast: Professor Nell Irvin Painter on Being ‘Old in Art School’ ” (November 1, 2018)
  • Interview with Boston Review: 'The Historian’s Art', Jonathan M. Square, Walter Johnson, Nell Painter. Jonathan M. Square, the curator of Nell's 2 recent exhibits at Harvard University, introduces the conversation between Nell and Walter Johnson (Harvard historian and Nell’s former student) (posted January 6, 2020)


  • Link to another excerpt published on NPR.org, with Scott Simon interview


'While exploring what it truly means to be an artist, this book asks honest and important questions about how our definition of identity influences our shared concept of art.'
TIME (magazine), One of the Best Memoirs of 2018 So Far

“After years of writing history, Painter has become a visual artist, but she also discovers that she does not need to leave history behind. In this book, a memoir, she brings the two “truths” together – the personal and the collective, the artistic and the historical – and the result is a heartening coming-of-age story for the retired set.”

“Painter claims her birthright as an artist, a black woman, and a woman of a certain age at a time and in a cultural milieu that ignores all three.”

“Painter chronicles her experience of returning to art school as an older African American woman with honest and elegant prose. Her narrative weaves expertly among her art school experience, family upbringing, the loss of her mother, caring for her father at a distance, and art itself. . . . Painter’s memoir presents her as an accessible artist, warm and inviting and keen to share her hard-won insights into her craft.”
LIBRARY JOURNAL, starred review

Hong Kong Art School

'This book is so brilliant and, like, delightful. One of our preeminent historians and intellectuals goes back to college and then grad school to study art, with college kids, and has all the confusions and pleasures and anxieties and disappointments and realizations you might expect, but don’t expect. I love this book.'
ROSS GAY, author of The Book of Delights, in Lithub.com

“Old in Art School is a glorious achievement…Nell Painter has taken the coming of age story to a new level—this is what you get when a wise person gets even wiser, when a true artist spreads her wings.”
—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 extracts important lessons about gender and racial politics in contemporary America that, contrary to the norm in art schools, demonstrate that such complex issues of ‘identity’ can be addressed in plain but vivid language, even as she gives artistic questions the edge. An invigoratingly affirmative, refreshingly unjaded case for following one’s passion.”
—ROBERT STORR, professor, painting and printmaking, Yale University School of Art

“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

Art School Near Me

“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…deserves to be widely read and hotly discussed!”

“Memoirs by black women artists are extremely rare, and this one is so beautifully written, so perfectly formed in terms of its storytelling trajectory…Old in Art School seems both definitive and unforgettable.”
—MICHELE WALLACE, author of Dark Designs and Visual Culture

“What a delightful turn by Nell Painter. One would read anything she wrote, having written what she has, but this chronicle of going to undergraduate and then graduate art school in her sixties is an especially fascinating, lively work.”
—RICK SIMONSON, Elliott Bay Book Company (Seattle, WA)

“Painter is a personality par excellence; forthright, erudite, and perfectly profane, her voice enthralls. . . . Filled with immense insight and presence, Painter’s memoir confronts a variety of issues and what it means to shoulder those burdens in the pursuit of art. Essential reading.”
FOREWORD REVIEWS, starred review

“It is impossible to read Nell Painter's generous and whole-souled memoir without feeling enlivened by motivation... Old in Art School is a celebration of courage, curiosity, and the audacity to live by one's own rules.”
BUZZFEED'S'1 of 30 Exciting New Books to Add to your Summer Reading List'

'Bold, brave...Old in Art School is a fascinating memoir about Painter’s daring choice to follow a passion with courage and intellect, even when the odds seemed firmly stacked against her.'
BOOKPAGE, Top Pick in Nonfiction, July 2018


Published by COUNTERPOINT PRESS, www.counterpointpress.com

For author interviews, reviews, and excerpts, contact:
Lena Moses-Schmitt, Publicist – 510.704.0230 ext. 215
[email protected]

For sales and marketing queries, contact:
Jennifer Kovitz, Associate Publisher and Director of Marketing
[email protected]

Jacket design by Faceout Studio, Jeff Miller
Jacket art by Nell Painter and Shutterstock
Author photograph by John Emerson

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Old In Art School Pdf

Old in art school pdf free download windows 10

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Old In Art School PDF Free Download