MacDowell artist colony chooses Nell Painter as new chair

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NEW YORK (AP) — The MacDowell Colony, one of the country's oldest and most prestigious artist colonies, has chosen the author-educator Nell Painter as its new board chair.

Painter will be the first woman and first African American to hold the position since it was established in the early 1970s, and she succeeds Michael Chabon, the Pulitzer Prize winning novelist who is stepping down after a decade as chair. Painter, a two-time MacDowell Fellow, is a professor emeritus at Princeton University. Her books include “The History of White People," “Sojourner Truth, A Life, A Symbol" and “Old in Art School: A Memoir of Starting Over," which she completed while a MacDowell Fellow.

“The challenge of following the singular eloquence of Michael Chabon as MacDowell chairman gives me pause. But as the first ‘madam chairman’ I relish the prospect of representing MacDowell and its far-flung Fellows,” Painter, 77, said in statement. She thanked the board for selecting her and "for creating a space where I could not only do my work in peace, but also slough off the burden of tokenism. I look forward to helping advance the MacDowell mission in an effort to provide this same gift for many more artists in the years to come.”

Chabon said in a statement Wednesday that “Painter has formidable gifts, and one of the most remarkable minds on the American scene. She is a powerhouse, and all of us at MacDowell feel fortunate and grateful to have her in our community.”

The MacDowell colony was founded in 1907 and is based in Peterbourgh, New Hampshire. Previous board chairs include William Schuman, Vartan Gregorian, and Robert MacNeil.

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