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Nell’s Interviews

Here are links to interviews with (or by) Nell Irvin Painter, including video, audio, and print media.

MacDowell-92nd Street Y
Video/Audio—recent
Video/Audio—2016 and older
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MacDowell-92nd Street Y

92nd Street Y is a world-class cultural and community center in NY, NY.
MacDowell-92nd Street Y—This partnership series between MacDowell and the 92nd Street Y will take place over the course of 2021 and is hosted by MacDowell Fellow, author, visual artist, and MacDowell Board Chair Nell Painter.

92Y 92Y and McDowell Present - A Conversation on the Enactment of Identity

A Conversation on the Enactment of Identity: Andrea Martin, Indhu Rubasingham and Jacqueline Woodson. Moderated by Nell Painter.

How do these artists—a lauded novelist, theatre director, and actor—interpret the relationship between their personal lives and the art they generate?

Individual experience doubtless nourishes art, even as art is creation, not a reenactment of life. This conversation probes that relationship, as both something to exploit and something to avoid.
Recorded online December 16, 2020. Video.

92Y logo MacDowell and 92nd Street Y Salon: The Enactment of Identity

MacDowell and 92nd Street Y Salon: The Enactment of Identity. Join Nell Painter, Chang-rae Lee, P. Carl, and Michael Chabon as they discuss the various relationships that interact with their art practice.

Moderator and MacDowell Chair Nell Painter, author Chang-rae Lee, author P. Carl, and author and former MacDowell Chair Michael Chabon discuss the relationship between the artist’s vision, the creation of character and story, and the ways their own individual and social identities (however they interpret them) interact with their art practice. 
Recorded Thursday, May 6, 2021.

This partnership series between MacDowell and the 92nd Street Y will take place over the course of 2021 and is hosted by MacDowell Fellow, author, visual artist, and MacDowell Board Chair Nell Painter.

92Y logo Across The MacDowell Dinner Table: On Memoir

Across The MacDowell Dinner Table: On Memoir. T Kira Madden, Sally Field, Nell Painter, and Riva Lehrer in an on-line conversation showcasing how artists share their visions and challenges across every art form.

Moderated by MacDowell Executive Director Philip Himberg, this hour-long program from MacDowell and 92Y’s salon series will focus on memoir, particularly the animating impulse that drove these multidisciplinary artists to examine the arc of their lives, and what surprises awaited them as they put pen to paper.
Online Thursday, August 26, 2021, 7 pm ET.


Nell’s Video/Audio Interviews (recent)

Top of Mind podcast What Does It Mean to Be White in America?

Top of Mind podcast on byuradio. Julie Rose interviews Nell Painter in "What Does It Mean to Be White in America?" May 13, 2024. Season 2024 Episode 17. Audio.

In this podcast episode, Julie Rose explores the nuance of what it means to be white in America. Nell's interview begins at 12:45 into the podcast. The discussion includes Nell's books The History of White People and I Just Keep Talking: A Life in Essays (Doubleday, 2024).

Time & Space Limited Sarah Broom interviews Nell Painter

Time & Space Limited (video recorded at live event, Hudson, NY). Sarah Broom interviews Nell Painter in "Time to Talk: Book Discussion with Nell Irvin Painter." May 9, 2024. YouTube video with transcript.

Nell Painter came to Time & Space Limited/TSL in Hudson NY to read from her new book I Just Keep Talking: A Life in Essays (Doubleday, 2024) followed by a conversation with author and journalist Sarah Broom.

I Just Keep Talking displays the breadth and depth of Painter’s decades-long historical inquiry into Black political thought. Along with Painter’s writing, this collection displays her original artwork, and testifies to the dialectic of tremendous change and stasis that continues to shape American history.

Political Junkie Episode 53: Nobody Else Has My Eyes Sojourner Truth, copyright by Nell Irvin Painter, 2022

Political Junkie podcast. Claire Potter interviews Nell Painter in "Episode 53: Nobody Else Has My Eyes." Nell returns to the show with a new collection of her work, I Just Keep Talking: A Life in Essays (Doubleday, 2024). April 26, 2024. Audio; written transcript.

Claire Potter says of the book "This curated collection of essays is beautifully illustrated with the questions, visual observations, and imaginative renderings that scholarship alone cannot properly address. The book is autobiographical, it is scholarly, and it is beautiful: Painter has truly taken the practice of history to a new level."

Print magazine Design Matters podcast with Debbie Millman Design Matters: Nell Irvin Painter

Print magazine—Design Matters podcast. Debbie Millman interviews Nell Painter in Season 19 of Design Matters podcast. Nell joins Debbie Millman to discuss her legendary career as a distinguished historian, award-winning author, and artist; including Nell's new book I Just Keep Talking. Debbie Millman says of it "it’s a fantastic book." April 15, 2024. Audio; written transcript.

The Modern Art Notes Podcast Self-Portrait Normal, Self-Portrait Triptych Emerson’s English Traits with $100 Reward

The Modern Art Notes Podcast. Tyler Green interviews Nell Painter in Episode No. 649 of The Modern Art Notes Podcast. Nell's section starts at 47:30 into the podcast. The wide-ranging interview discussed Nell's new book of essays I Just Keep Talking; Alma Thomas; American museums; and Nell's art—specifically the two pieces shown above from the new book; and Stephen Colbert. April 11, 2024. Audio; introduction text and art images.

— See more about Nell's new book I Just Keep Talking.

Smithsonian Magazine There's More to That, A Smithsonian Magazine podcast Smithsonian Magazine podcast Sojourner Truth Smithsonian Magazine podcast There's More to That, How to Separate Fact From Myth in the Extraordinary Story of Sojourner Truth

Smithsonian podcast interviews Nell and Cynthia Greenlee: "How to Separate Fact From Myth in the Extraordinary Story of Sojourner Truth" on There's More to That: Two historians tell us why the pioneering 19th-century feminist, suffragist and abolitionist’s legacy has so frequently been misrepresented. Feb. 22, 2024. Season 2, episode 2. Audio and text.

— Apple Podcast link for the Feb. 22, 2024 episode of There's More to That.
— Smithsonian Magazine web page for episode with description, transcript, and audio player.
— See more about Nell's new book on this website here.

The U.S. And The Holocaust - a film by Ken Burns, Lynn Novick and Sarah Botstein Stop Messaging Me, a Black Journalist, About White Irish Slaves: Nell is interviewed by Garrison Hayes for Mother Jones magazine Nell is interviewed by Garrison Hayes for Mother Jones magazine

Stop Messaging Me, a Black Journalist, About White Irish “Slaves”—A wide-ranging conversation about how white people became “white.” Nell is interviewed by Garrison Hayes for Mother Jones magazine. October 22, 2023. Video and text.

This interview includes the fluidity and historical contexts of racial identities in general, the cyclical nature of historical erasure in American education, and even Dr. Painter’s perspective on the capitalization of Black and “White.”

Nell interview in a podcast by World Review from the New Statesman: Whose country, 'tis of thee? Nationalism Reimagined

"The US: Whose country, 'tis of thee? – Nationalism Reimagined." Nell is interviewed in a podcast by World Review from the New Statesman. Nell's segment starts at 19:00 min. in. Available wherever you listen to podcasts.   November 8, 2022. Audio.

This podcast series looks at nationalism in its different forms around the world, and alternative approaches to creating a sense of nationhood. At the 19:00 min. mark in this episode Nell explains why she’s thinking about the local and the global, not the national.

The Cleveland Heights-University Heights Library Nell interview with The Cleveland Heights-University Heights Library's 1619 Project discussion group, Oct. 17, 2022

Nell discusses her book, The History of White People with John Piche of The Cleveland Heights-University Heights Library's 1619 Project discussion group. In this interview, "History of White People with Nell Irvin Painter," Nell begins with discussing just what it means to be "white" and how ideas of whiteness developed using Ancient Greek and Roman sources. Ralph Waldo Emerson's influence is explored before delving into eugenics, anti-Semitism, and Irish Immigration.  October 17, 2022. Video.

The U.S. And The Holocaust - a film by Ken Burns, Lynn Novick and Sarah Botstein The U.S. And The Holocaust - Excerpts with Dr. Painter; image of Dr. Painter

The U.S. And The Holocaust– Excerpts with Dr. Painter. Nell's interview for this Ken Burns series is featured in a 10-minute-plus excerpt (hosted on Nell's page on UTA Speakers).

The U.S. and the Holocaust, a new three-part, six-hour series directed and produced by Ken Burns, Lynn Novick and Sarah Botstein, explores America’s response to one of the greatest humanitarian crises of the 20th century. The U.S. and the Holocaust features interviews with some of the country’s leading scholars on the period, including Nell Irvin Painter.  Full series premiered September 18, 2022; streaming on PBS.org.  Video.

Sojourner Truth

Nell’s interview on WBUR, Boston’s NPR news station (on radio show Here & Now): "Sojourner Truth court documents found 194 years after legal battle to free enslaved son."  June 20, 2022. Audio.

Historian Nell Irvin Painter is calling a new find in the New York state archives dramatic and moving. The documents accidentally uncovered by archivist Jim Folts detail abolitionist and women’s rights advocate Sojourner Truth’s legal battle — and victory — to free her 9-year-old enslaved son. Folts and Irvin Painter join Here & Now’s Robin Young to talk about the unexpected find and its significance.

Princeton University Dept. of African american Studies The Extraordinary Women of AAS Featuring Nell Painter The Extraordinary Women of AAS Featuring Nell Painter

Nell’s video interview with the Department of African American Studies, Princeton University in “The Extraordinary Women of AAS Featuring Nell Painter” March 28, 2022. Video.

The Department of African American Studies sat down with the exceptional Nell Irvin Painter, Faculty Emerita, to reflect on her professional journey, achievements, and future endeavors.

Nell' appears in a Showtime documentary

Nell appears in a new Showtime docuseries “It's Gonna be all White” (Episode 1). Showtime describes the series as “A deep dive into America's past and present through the experiences of people of color.” March 2022. Video.

Here is an 6:37 min. excerpt (thanks to Sonya Denyse from UTA):
•  Stream from this site
•  Stream from Nell’s page on UTA (Nell’s talent agency for speaking engagements)
•  Download mp4 video file (920MB)

Nell's on-line interview with TSL

Nell’s on-line interview with TSL: TSL Time to Talk: In Conversation with Nell Irvin Painter 2/18/22. (Time & Space Limited is a creative space in Hudson, NY). Topics include Sojourner Truth, Nell's art, new books, Faith Ringgold, Harriet Tubman. February 18, 2022. Video.

Nell on MSNBC The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donell

Nell’s appearance on MSNBC "The Last Word": Lawrence O'Donell interviews Nell about Sojourner Truth, in segment "Recovered docs show how Sojourner Truth won son’s freedom from white man." February 2, 2022. Video.

Black Power in Print, Nell Painter, MFA Boston Nell Painter, screen shot from MFA video

Nell is interviewed online by the Boston Museum of Fine Arts: In this virtual discussion, originally hosted live by the MFA’s Contemporaries Curators Circle, scholar and artist Nell Painter speaks with curators from the Museum’s Department of Contemporary Art about "Black Power in Print." ("Black Power in Print" is an on-line project—a collaboration between the MFA and MoMA—examing the Black Power movement’s legacy in visual culture.) November 15, 2021. Video.

Think presents

Nell's video on NBC: Think—Opinion, Analysis, Essays “The complex history and an uncertain future of American whiteness” by Nell Irvin Painter, August 3, 2020. Video.

NPR podcast NPR podcast

Nell is interviewed as part of a podcast on NPR's "Invisabilia" series: "White v. White?" The podcast's subject is "A city council candidate says he's black. But his opponent accuses him of being a white man pretending to be black." Nell discusses race as a social construct, the meanings which change over time. March 27, 2020. Audio.

CBC logo There is no such thing as the white race-or any other race, says historian. image of Nell Painter and her book "History of  White People"

Nell's interview on Canadian radio: “There is no such thing as the 'white race' —or any other race, says historian.” CBC Radio, The Sunday Edition with Michael Enright, Sunday September 17, 2017. Audio and text.

CUNY TV logo Through a Painter's Eye with Nell Painter - Black America image of Nell Painter in interview

Video of Nell's interview with Carol Jenkins on CUNY Television’s Black America series “Black America – Through a Painter's Eye with Nell Painter.” April 26, 2017. Video.


Nell’s Video/Audio Interviews (2016 and older)

C-Span logo results for Nell Painter

Nell’s videos on C-SPAN: This C-SPAN search page includes links to several videos. 23 videos with transcript text, dating from 1997 through 2016.

including:
2010 National Book Festival. Nell talked about her book The History of White People in the History and Biography Pavilion.The 10th annual National Book Festival was held by the Library of Congress on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. C-SPAN’s BookTV aired live coverage of the day’s events, including authors speaking in the History and Biography Pavilion interspersed with interviews and viewer calls with featured authors. (Nell's talk begins at 1:40:25 into the video.) September 25, 2010. Video with transcript text.

Conversations with History Nell Painter in “Reflections of an Historian” interview

Berkeley historian interview series: Video of Nell’s interview with Harry Kreisler, “Reflections of an Historian,” in the Conversations with History series at the University of California, Berkeley. Conversations host Harry Kreisler welcomes historian and artist Nell Irvin Painter for a discussion of her intellectual odyssey. Professor Painter discusses the influence of her parents, her work as a historian and the importance of art as a way to complement the traditional historical narrative. November 7, 2013. Video.

ABC News  logo The Conversation: The History of White People image of Nell Painter and Diane Sawyer

Interview on ABC News with Dianne Sawyer: Diane Sawyer and author Nell Irvin Painter discuss what it means to be ‘white’ in “The Conversation: The History of White People

What does it mean to be ‘white’? Is it one race of people? Were people defined as ‘white’ hundreds of years ago? In her new book, “The History of White People,” author Nell Irvin Painter tells the story of what she considers a forgotten chapter in history: the story of whiteness. From antiquity to the modern era, Painter explores the concept and how the definition of ‘white’ has taken on many forms.

In this interview, Diane Sawyer asks Painter how notions of ‘whiteness’ came to be. They discuss how white beauty has affected definitions of beauty in general, the origin of ‘Caucasian’ and whether such a term can accurately describe someone. And Painter ponders the question of whether we live in a truly post-racial society. April 1, 2010. Video.

Big Think  logo Big Think Interview With Nell Irvin Painter

Big Think Interview With Nell Irvin Painter. A conversation with the professor of American history at Princeton. March 31, 2010. Video with text transcript.

Comedy Central - The Colbert Report logo The Colbert Report - Nell Irvin Painter - Season 6 E 39 3/17/2010 image of Nell Painter arm-wrestling Stephen Colbert

The Colbert Report on Comedy Central with Stephen Colbert: Nell Irvin Painter debates the meaning of white people and arm-wrestles Stephen over the Scots-Irish. March 17, 2010. Video.


Nell’s Print Interviews

New Jersey Monthly Nell Irvin Painter on Art, Aging and Telling the Truth Nell Irvin Painter Photo: Courtesy of Dwight Carter

New Jersey Monthly magazine article "Nell Irvin Painter on Art, Aging and Telling the Truth" by Kate Tuttle, appears in the April 2024 issue. Online in njmonthly.com, April 23, 2024. Print/web.

Nell discusses her newly published book I Just Keep Talking, living in New Jersey, aging, her art, family, and her other books.

Smithsonian Magazine Smithsonian Magazine, The Remarkable Untold Story of Sojourner Truth Sojourner Truth sculpture by Woodrow Nash, photo by Maddie McGarvey

Nell is interviewed by Cynthia Greenlee for the Smithsonian Magazine, History — March 2024 article "The Remarkable Untold Story of Sojourner Truth," with photographs by Maddie McGarvey.  "Feminist, Preacher. Abolitionist. Civil rights pioneer. Now the full story of the American icon’s life and faith is finally coming to light."

Nell discusses her new book in progress Sojourner Truth Was a New Yorker and She Didn’t Say That with Cynthia Greenlee for this  Smithsonian Magazine, article. See more about Nell's new book on this website, and more from the article here. March 2024 issue, print/web.

The Artful Mind banner Nell Irvin Painter: Historian/Writer/Artist image and article title

Nell is interviewed by Harryet Candee for The Artful Mind magazine, “Nell Irvin Painter: Historian/Writer/Artist.” (link to downloadable pdf of article on our website) or online issue at issuu.com. October 2022 issue. Print.

Harryet Candee noted in her introduction: “This past summer, Linda Mussman, Co-Founder of Time & Space Limited in Hudson, New York, introduced me to Nell at the TSL Gallery. It was there I caught her in a very energized state of mind, busily sorting through and uncovering art work that was to be hung the same day for her opening ‘A Million Nells: Heedless Self Portraits Over the Years.’ Nell's work will be on view through October 9, 2022.” The article is illustrated with 11 images of Nell's art.

northjersey.com banner It's never too late Nell Painter photo

A profile on Nell by Sammy Gibbons for northjersey.com (part of the USA Today network), “It's never too late: Why this successful NJ historian changed career paths in her late 60s” Published December 14, 2020. Print.

KC Star logo At 67, she could have retired, but instead she reinvented herself. It wasn’t easy.

Nell is interviewed by the Kansas City Star newspaper: "At 67, she could have retired, but instead she reinvented herself. It wasn’t easy." October 30, 2020. Print.

Also, the Kansas City Public Library streamed an on-line conversation with Nell, led by Kaite Mediatore Stover, the library’s director of readers’ services, featuring "Old in Art School" by Nell Painter, the Library's "book-of-the-moment selection". November 16, 2020. Video.

November magazine

Nell is interviewed by Lauren O'Neill-Butler for the on-line publication November, "Nell Painter— In conversation with Lauren O'Neill-Butler," November Magazine, No. 5. (novembermag.com is a publication of interviews with thinkers about art, politics, media, architecture, and philosophy). The interview took place September 2020. Print.

Boston Review The Historian’s Art

Nell is interviewed in the Boston Review: "The Historian’s Art", Jonathan M. Square, Walter Johnson, Nell Painter.
Jonathan M. Square, the curator of Nell's two recent exhibits at Harvard University, introduces the conversation between Nell and Walter Johnson (Harvard historian and Nell’s former student). January 6, 2020. Print.