I finished reading “Old in Art School”, by Nell Painter, this afternoon on my commute home. I felt a little sad: grief that I had to come back to the “real world”; which I’ve learned is a sign I truly loved the book. It’s also a little funny, since “Old in Art School” is a memoir.
If I had to sum up the theme of Painter’s writing, I’d say “authenticity”. Stories of pursuing authenticity, personally and artistically, weave throughout the book. And Painter wrestles with questions of authenticity and whether she answers intrinsically or extrinsically. Painter stretches for something she wants, something just beyond (or sometimes well beyond) her current mastery, and when she finds success wrestles with questions on authenticity: “am I An Artist artist?”
That push/pull (or perhaps leap/fall) dynamic is something I’ve felt in my vocation and avocation.
I feel like I gained a better understanding of my own artistic practice by reading about the development of hers.