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Nicholas Nixon Retires From MassArt Following Allegations of Inappropriate Behavior

The photographer Nicholas Nixon has retired from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design following accusations of inappropriate behavior. Nixon, who is now seventy, is renowned for his intimate black-and-white portraits that document a range of experiences and communities, including schoolchildren, the blind, the aging, and dying people.  

In a letter to the campus community, MassArt president David Nelson wrote that allegations against Nixon have prompted an investigation into whether the photographer violated the Title IX anti-discrimination law. “Nick has been widely known for a provocative teaching style in a creative art school environment that he believed was inspiring to his students,” Nelson told the Boston Globe. “This investigation—which has not even begun yet—is to determine whether or not Nick made inappropriate comments in the classroom. In fairness, we hope the investigation can be completed before any conclusions are drawn.”

The photographer’s retirement went into effect on March 2, and he is no longer on the campus. Nixon began teaching at the school in 1975—the year he began the project for which is he most famous, his ongoing portraiture series “The Brown Sisters,” which has chronicled four sisters, one of whom is his wife, for more than forty successive years. The work is currently on display at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston.