A snow covered roads in pine trees

Photo by Jo Morrissey.

Nell Painter

New Jersey
Artist in Residence, 2023

Portrait of Nell Painter

Artist Statement

I’ve never had an overarching goal in my work, a meaning that guides all I do. As an author and visual artist, I tend to work step by step, from one thing to the next, guided more by questions than answers, more by praxis than theory. More hedgehog than fox. I’m interested in answering my own questions with specificity rather than in drawing wide-flung conclusions. Of course I want what I write to interest many readers, and I want them to read with the confidence that I’ve done my work conscientiously. As an artist, I want my work to engage the eye and to convey meaning that is more than just visual.


While at Headlands

At Headlands I will begin writing a new book, a personal biography of Sojourner Truth, stressing her identity as a New Yorker and, with attention to my own identity as someone from the Bay Area, embedding my own territory into the work from the outset.


Artist portrait by Dwight Carter.


Selected Work

Nell Painter, “Alma W. Thomas (1891-1978): Old/Not Old Artist.” Alma W. Thomas: Everything is Beautiful, The Columbus Museum and Chrysler Museum of Art, 2021.

Nell Painter, “Can We Find Solidarity in the Face of Climate Disaster?” The New Republic, December, 2022.