92Y & MacDowell | A Conversation on the Enactment of Identity

December 16, 2020


Historian, author, visual artist, and MacDowell Board Chair Nell Painter led a discussion on Wednesday, December 16 at 6 p.m. with actor and writer Andrea Martin, theatre director Indhu Rubasingham, and author Jacqueline Woodson about the relationship between their identities and their art.

This conversation probes those relationships, as both something to exploit and something to avoid, and will further reflect on the barriers that artists face when telling the stories that are traditionally left untold. The presentation was cosponsored by the 92nd Street Y and MacDowell.

Reflecting on the period during which she is completing her first year as Madam Chairman of the Board, Painter said, "A year of social justice activism, pandemic, and complex politics has made MacDowell's support of artists all the more crucial. We embrace the challenges of our times as extraordinary opportunities."

“A Conversation on the Enactment of Identity”
examines creativity and its social and historical importance, especially in today’s world. "How do these artists – a lauded novelist, theatre director, and actor – interpret the relationship between their personal lives and the art they generate?” asks Painter. “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."

A collage of six photos. Four are portraits of event participants and the other two are the MacDowell and 92Y logos

Clockwise, from top left: Nell Painter by Dwight Carter, Andrea Martin by Danielle Kosann, Indhu Rubasingham by Mark Douet, and Jacqueline Woodson by Tiffany A. Bloomfield.

A Conversation on the Enactment of Identity

Biographies of panelists:

After a fulfilling career as a publishing Princeton historian (most notably as the author of The History of White People), Nell Painter began again in art school, a move eliciting a great deal of curiosity. In residence at MacDowell in 2016, she completed a memoir entitled Old in Art School, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle autobiography award. In 2017 she completed the series "You Say This Can't Really Be America" and in 2018 she published an art review of Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power in the New York Review Daily. In residence at MacDowell in 2019, Painter created "Ancient Hair Book" and four installations on her studio wall for a project that will ultimately become an artist's book with the working title Were the Ancients White? Painter was appointed Chairman of the Board of Directors of MacDowell in 2020.

Andrea Martin
’s appearances: Broadway: Noises Off (Tony Award nomination), Act One (Outer Critics Circle Award). Pippin (Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, Elliot Norton Awards), Exit the King (Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle nominations), Young Frankenstein (Tony and Drama Desk nominations), Oklahoma! (Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle nominations), Candide (Tony, Drama Desk Nominations), and My Favorite Year (Tony, Drama Desk, Theatre World Awards). One-woman show: Nude Nude Totally Nude (Drama Desk nomination). Television: Will & Grace, Great News, Difficult People, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, The Good Fight, Hairspray Live!, Modern Family, 30 Rock, Nurse Jackie, Sesame Street (Special Emmy Award), and SCTV (Two Emmy Awards). Film: Diane, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, Night at the Museum 3, Breaking Upwards, The Producers, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, All Over the Guy, Wag the Dog, Stepping Out, My Big Fat Greek Wedding (Best Ensemble SAG Award nomination, People’s Choice Award). Ms. Martin’s critically acclaimed book of autobiographical essays, Lady Parts, published by HarperCollins, was released in 2014.

ndhu Rubasingham is the artistic director of Kiln Theatre. Kiln Theatre is a local venue with an international vision, focused on making space for unheard/ignored voices to be part of the mainstream. The theatre sits in the Borough of Brent, where more than a hundred languages are spoken locally. Prior to leading Kiln, Rubasingham worked internationally as a freelance theatre director for more than 15 years, predominately directing new writing. She was awarded an MBE in the 2017 New Years’ Honors list.

Jacqueline Woodson is the recipient of a 2020 MacArthur Fellowship, the 2020 Hans Christian Andersen Award, the 2018 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, and the 2018 Children’s Literature Legacy Award, and she was the 2018–2019 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. She is also a MacDowell Fellow (4x 90-09). Her New York Times bestselling memoir, Brown Girl Dreaming, won the National Book Award, as well as the Coretta Scott King Award, a Newbery Honor, and the NAACP Image Award. She also wrote the adult books Red at the Bone, a New York Times bestseller, and Another Brooklyn, a 2016 National Book Award finalist. Her dozens of books for young readers include Before the Ever After, New York Times bestsellers The Day You Begin and Harbor Me, Newbery Honor winners Feathers, Show Way, and After Tupac and D Foster, and the picture book Each Kindness, which won the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award.