Gayil Nalls

Gayil Nalls, Ph.D. is an interdisciplinary artist and theorist. Her body of multi-media art unites various fields and disciplines in pursuit of forming new methods of understanding, both intellectual and felt. The works take many forms, including large-scale public art and commissions, installations, critical and reflective text works, film, sculpture, paintings, and drawings. The works merge themes of co-evolution, nature, crowd theory, transformation, consciousness, memory and socio-political impulse and aesthetics. Seventeen years of in-depth investigations into olfaction related to aesthetics, culture, neuroscience, media, informatics, natural and synthetic perception, and adaptive capacity has put her work at the forefront of artistic and scholarly practices.

As a pioneer of Olfactory Art, Gayil Nalls broadened the definition of sculpture and public art when her world social olfactory sculpture World Sensorium (a statically based composition of phytogentic materials) premiered at New York’s Times Square 2000 celebration, released from above onto the crowd of two million participants as the New Year arrived. The influential work was endorsed by UNESCO as a project of peace and goodwill and was also featured in Washington, D.C.’s Millennium Around the World gala and the Vatican’s Millennium Jubilee in Rome, Italy. World Sensorium is ultimately a formless sculpture shaped by the people embodying it and the social sculpture grows as it continues to be exhibited in art galleries and public spaces and is included in cultural and environmental awareness events.

Nalls earned her doctorate in the art and science of olfaction at the University of East London, UK. Her thesis World Sensorium: Theory, Practice and Significance of the World Social Olfactory Sculpture is a case study of her opus work. She is currently writing a book on Olfactory Art, highlighting the work of more than fifty contemporary artists who have made distinctive Olfactory Art and examining it in context with key scientific research in a broad range of sub-disciplines including psychology, neuroscience, behavioral and evolution studies, media ecology, and anthropology, as well as the new field of neuro-aesthetics.

Her research is featured in the book Linking Affect to Action: Critical Contributions of the Orbitofrontal Cortex (2007), published by the New York Academy of Sciences. She continues to explore social issues such as the implications of the Internet and digital media based olfactory interaction.

Dr. Nalls has taught at Parsons School of Design and at the New York Institute of Technology and has served as Visiting Artist Professor at many institutions, including The Institut Superieur International Du Parfum at the University of Versailles in France. She is an Associate Research Fellow with The SMARTlab Digital Media Institute, University of East London, and an artist member of the Institute of Neuroesthetics in the UK.

Gayil Nalls has had twenty-seven solo exhibitions, six of which were in New York City, and her work has been featured in over one hundred group exhibitions. Nalls’s paintings, sculptures, photographs, videos and prints can be found in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Corcoran Gallery of Art, The National Museum of American Art and numerous other public and private collections. In 2005, Nalls completed the September 11th Memorial for The City of White Plains, New York.

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World Sensorium

© 1997-2008, by Gayil Nalls

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