Nell Painter

Basic Info

Name: Nell Painter
Date of Birth: August 2, 1942
Country of Origin: US


Nell Painter is an American historian and artist, well-known for her works on Southern history of the nineteenth century. She grew up in Oakland, California, in the 1940s, and earned her B.A. in anthropology at U.C. Berkeley, an M.A. at UCLA, and an M.A. and Ph.D. at Harvard. She spent her working life mostly at Princeton, teaching, publishing and directing their program in African-American studies.

After retiring from Princeton, she went on to earn her B.F.A. at Rutgers, and an MFA at RISD. Her first memoir, Old in Art School, is a reflection on this experience.

Painter uses found images and digital manipulation in her work, which she creates with a characteristic manual and digital process. Many of her pieces are self-portraits: “After a life of historical truth and political engagement with American society, my artwork represents freedom. Including the freedom to be totally self-centered.”

Painter has held solo shows in New Jersey, New York and Texas, and her work is held in a number of institutions including the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., and the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Collection at Yale. She currently lives and works in Newark, New Jersey.

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