Native son and internationally acclaimed artist Fred “Nall” Hollis now has his own day in the city of Troy, thanks to a proclamation by city leaders. May 7 is now “Nall Day” in the city, with backup from proclamations by the Alabama House and Senate.
The proclamations were presented at a luncheon in Nall’s honor at downtown Troy’s historic Johnson Center for the Arts.
“Nall has played an important part in creating a community that celebrates the arts,” said Stephanie Baker, District 4 councilwoman. “Nall has contributed his time and energy to encouraging artists in their craft.”
Baker was joined by council members Wanda Moultry (District 5) and Robert Jones (District 1) in the presentation.
Former State Arts Council executive director Al Head, a TROY alumnus, provided the luncheon’s keynote address, praising Nall for his commitment to bringing his talents and acclaim to bear for Alabama artists.
“Nall’s reputation internationally was something that was followed by those of us (at the Arts Council) – he truly has been a rock star over the years,” he said.
“About 25 years ago, Nall began coming back to Troy regularly and started devoting his time, energy and effort toward helping Alabama artists and helping Alabama art. He was able to do so in a way that others had not been able – he used his name and art to shine a light on other Alabama artists,” Head said.
He pointed to Nall’s encouragement of an arts program in 2000 that led to 12 Alabama artists’ works being shown in France and New York City.
“What a significant lift he provided that was in validation of their work and art,” Head said.
Troy University Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr. said Nall reminded everyone that “all roads lead back to Troy.”
“Life is about relationship and how we feel about each other, and those relationships lead to opportunities, many of which were created by people in this very room,” Hawkins said. “On the surface Nall can be flamboyant, but we added a new dimension at Troy University by having him back. His legacy is firmly in place in the International Arts Center’s Nall Museum. What he’s done can’t be measured but will always be valued.”
Nall’s artistry has been expressed through mosaics, including the monumental “Sunrise & Sunset Pensee,” hanging in Monaco’s Grimaldi Forum; sculptures including the “Violata Pax,” in Assisi and Pietrasanta, Italy, and in Troy; line engravings, some of which are in the permanent collections of the Boston Museum of Art and the Museum of Pau, France; porcelain, including three dinnerware designs for Haviland and Parlon of Limoges, France; sets and costumes, including those for operas performed in Italy; and carpets, consisting of tapestries hand-woven in silk and wool for Kamyar Moghadam in Monte Carlo, Monaco.
Nall completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Alabama, and was admitted to study at Ecole des Beaux-Artsin Paris, France in 1971. He travelled extensively in the Middle East, North Africa, India and Mexico, and studied under Salvador Dali, who trained him in artistic techniques and inspired him to devote his life to the pursuit of beauty through artwork.
His artwork is heavily influenced by his international travel and living experiences, and his associations with those whom he encountered.
In 1986, he bought a studio estate in Vence, France, and created the N.A.L.L. (Nature Art & Life League) Art Association, which offered artistic training for college students and provided a cultural life through exhibitions and conferences.
“Nall lives a life with the virtues most people dream about. He lives a life of passion, adventure, love and family,” said Alyson Jackson, one of Nall’s cousins who spoke on behalf of the family.