Troy University and the City of Troy will celebrate a native son on May 7, and recognize him for his accomplishments in the world of art.
“Nall Day” recognizes world-renowned mixed-media artist and Pike County native Fred “Nall” Hollis and his artistic contributions. City officials will proclaim Nall Day at a luncheon in his honor at the Johnson Center for the Arts, said Troy Mayor Jason Reeves.
“Art fosters social interaction, increases cultural awareness, and provides a source of pride for our community. Art connects people and lets them see the world through the eyes of the artist. Nall’s artwork with its international flair brings the world to Troy and its citizens,” said Troy Mayor Jason Reeves. “He is a testament to the talent born here in Troy and what can be accomplished if you break outside the bounds set by others and keep chasing your dreams. Nall Day is a way to show our appreciation for Nall’s talent and his contribution to Troy’s story through art.”
The luncheon will be followed with a closed-session masterclass with eight Troy University art students. During this session the students and Nall will collaborate to create a new piece of art that will be donated to the University, said Greg Skaggs, associate professor of art and design.
“This piece will be about four-by-four feet and will feature the original work of each student and Nall himself. It will be a spectacular piece that can serve as a centerpiece of our art and design department,” he said.
A 5 p.m., the public is invited to Troy University’s International Arts Center for a reception honoring Nall, and introducing his new exhibit “Mossa-Nall Dialogues.”
“As we celebrate Nall’s contributions of global significance, we also want to recognize his contributions to Troy University and our community as a native son who has long been involved in the life of this institution,” said Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr. “His gifts to the University’s permanent collection are substantial and form a lasting impression on our students who view and study his art.”
Described by many as a “modern-day Mossa,” Nall’s newest exhibit combines his slant on symbolist painting with that of French illustrator, playwright, essayist, curator and symbolist artist Gustav-Adolf Mossa, who died in 1971. Much of Mossa’s symbolist period focused on his reaction to the turn-of-the-century (1900-1911) boom of socialite leisure activity on the French Riviera, comically satirizing or condemning what was viewed as an increasingly materialistic society and the perceived dangers of the “new woman.”
Nall’s own 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.
A 1997 book, “Nall-Mossa/Eros & Agapa” by Jean Forneris, and published by Galerie-Musee Raoul Dufy/Musées de la N.A.L.L. Art Association, compares Nall’s work to that of Mossa’s.
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.
The Nall Museum and the Huo Bao Zhu Gallery are located in the International Arts Center on the campus of Troy University.