Renowned International Artist, UA Alum: ‘Sharing is Growth’

By David Miller

Selected Pieces of Nall Artwork on Display in Carmichael Hall

Fred “Nall” Hollis discusses various pieces from his collection of art work that he recently donated to the UA College of Education.

 

Acclaimed multi-medium artist and University of Alabama alumnus Fred “Nall” Hollis debuted a collection of etchings and other works Friday at UA.

Hollis, known professionally as “Nall,” donated artwork valued at more than $540,000 to the UA College of Education, which will display his work in the third-floor rotunda of Carmichael Hall.

Nall discussed more than 40 years of his work, travels and success in art during a meet-and-greet and lecture Friday.

Nall served as artist-in-residence at UA in 2000 and helped bring Alabama’s arts community to national notoriety through the traveling exhibit – and book – “Alabama Art,” a collection of portraits of 12 Alabama artists and their works.

Nall is currently based in Fairhope after spending a great part of his career in France, where his Nature Art and Life League (N.A.L.L.) offered apprenticeships to international students, some from UA.

“My heart is a progression and part of the Alabama art movement, of which The University of Alabama is certainly a player,” Nall said.

Nall, born and raised in Troy, earned a bachelor’s degree in art at UA in 1970. A year later, he moved to Paris, France to study at its Ecole National des Beaux Arts (School of Fine Arts). He’d travel across Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Mexico, learning different mediums from the likes of Spanish surrealist artist Salvador Dali, who influenced his etchings, some of which will be on display at UA.

“When I was working with Dali, I was just beginning etchings,” Nall said. “I remember him saying, ‘no, no, you must learn to draw the hair growing out of the head, in black and white, and if you can do it in black and white, you can always do it in color.’ Dali was a delightful professor. So were Richard Brough and Al Sella, both whom taught me drawing and commercial art at Alabama. Brough taught me how to make something pop.”

Nall developed a reputation for producing art in many mediums, particularly mosaics, sculpture and line engravings. He’s also created porcelain designs for Haviland, Royal Limoges, Monaco and Tunisian porcelain, and he makes tapestries and opera set and costume designs. His artwork has been displayed in art museums across the United States and internationally in Monaco and the Vatican, among others.

“We are so grateful to Nall for his generosity to our College,” said Dr. Peter Hlebowitsh, dean of the UA College of Education. “His work has enriched the living experience in Carmichael Hall and we very much look forward to sharing the beauty of his art with the wider University community.”

Nall said he’s excited to continue to help promote art in Alabama the same way he saw communities in Europe prop up their artists and propel their work into the high-end venues and mainstream culture.

“I love to share – it’s growth,” Nall said. “When I grew up, in Birmingham, there was one gallery. So having Prince Albert (of Monaco) and (former Beatles drummer) Ringo Starr, and former Alabama collectors like Red Blount and Jack Warner behind me helped me achieve my goal – to inject art into the mainstream of everyone’s life.”

The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.