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Nall’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’ opens at IAC

World-renowned artist Fred “Nall” Hollis is bringing what is considered his most valuable and important series of art to Troy University’s International Arts Center.

“Alice in Wonderland,” an art series created by the Troy, Alabama-born artist from 1977 through 1979, will open to the public on Oct. 8 at the IAC.

The series, inspired by Lewis Carroll’s classic novels “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking-Glass,” holds a special place in the artist’s heart, both because it was born of his passion for the source material and because it recounts the true, raw nature of his youth.

“The ‘Alice in Wonderland’ series is unique in Nall’s career, and it stands as his most acclaimed work,” said Carrie Jaxon, Director of the IAC. “We are honored to host this exhibit, which illustrates the brilliance of an artist coming into his own. ‘Alice in Wonderland’ is about youth and honesty. Much like the dash of the Mad Hatter, Nall’s work reflects that we are all running to beat the clock of life.”

After a decade of studying pencil drawings at Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris and the University of Alabama, and being mentored by surrealist painter Salvador Dali, Nall read and became fascinated by Carroll’s works.

To capture his unique perspective, Nall traveled the world looking for models he felt best represented the characters of the story. 

These chosen characters included friends, political figures and even royalty. While reminiscent of Carroll’s famed scenes, Nall’s “Alice” takes a passage unique to Nall’s youthful explorations in a manner that is both fantastical and provocative.

“Nall’s ‘Alice’ takes one to a strange ‘Wonderland,’ clearly dark, unsettling and artistically stunning,” said Al Head, former longtime executive director of the Alabama State Council on the Arts. “The unmatched skill demonstrated in this unique ‘rabbit hole’ experience is unlike anything Alabama audiences have ever seen. While much of the work is challenging, there can be no doubt ‘Alice’ is the creation of a master artist at his best.”

The exhibit, which will be featured in the IAC’s Fred Nall Hollis Museum, is recommended for mature audiences.

“This work is Nall’s rite of passage,” said Ed Noreiga, TROY Professor of Art and Design. “He is deliberate in taunting the viewer with eye candy. Look closer and you begin to see the truth: the reality of the Wonderland we live in and the passages we experience.”

While attending this exhibit, visitors can also see other new additions to the Museum.

“Three Who Dared: Civil Rights Icons” features portraits by Nall of Rosa Parks, Judge Frank Johnson and Martin Luther King, along with important memorabilia from the era. This installation presents three of the most influential Alabama citizens who were instrumental to the success of the U.S. civil rights movement while facing great personal and professional risk. Their lives intersected in Montgomery, setting off a chain of events that energized the movement and changed the world forever.

An extension of the Museum will be opened to the public, featuring an installation to transport visitors into an environment inspired by Nall’s home studio. Among the salon-style display of Nall’s artwork, the Alabama Art collection will be available for viewing. Included in this collection are the works of 12 Alabama artists, including Mose T, Frank Flemming, Bruce Larson and Yvonne Wells, along with Nall’s portraits of the featured artists.