Photo of a person's shadow falling on a large flat rock in the woods

About Gayil Nalls

Gayil Nalls, Ph.D. (United States) is an interdisciplinary artist creating at the forefront of science-art practices and theoretical discourse. She is an internationally known pioneer of olfactory art and science and is the creator of World Sensorium, the olfactory social sculpture.

World Sensorium is the culmination of Nalls’ investigations into neuroaesthetics, botany, the anthropology of olfaction, and collective behavior. This statistically based composition of phytogenic materials is an on-going work created to evoke a global memory. Nalls broadened the definition of sculpture and public art when World Sensorium, endorsed by UNESCO, premiered at New York’s Times Square 2000 celebration, released to a crowd of millions as the New Year arrived. The influential work creatively tapped into collective world memory as a natural resource to provide a universal experience.

Gayil Nalls has had thirty solo art exhibitions, six in New York City, and her work has been featured in hundreds of group exhibitions. Her paintings, sculptures, photographs, videos, prints, olfactory sculptures and texts can be found in collections such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and The National Museum of American Art.

Nalls has produced films that have aired on television and shown in museum installations, film festivals and galleries worldwide. Her productions have earned her the esteem of television and environmental communities in addition to the art world. A Common Destiny aired nationally on PBS as a part of First View and was screened at The Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. Nalls won the 1992 Mayor’s Earthpeace Film Award for the documentary Walking in Both Worlds which was excerpted by Earth Explorer, The Encyclopedia of the Environment and by the Beastie Boys for Sabotage, their award-winning long-form video.

Nalls’ video performance work, The Laments, was shown at the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in China and she was one of four artists chosen to represent the US in Seville ’92, where her film Permutatude was presented in a large screen installation. In 2004, her work Hemispheres I, was shown at Siggraph Gallery in LA, on the spherical OmniGlobe projection system where Nalls united her sculptural, cinematic, painting, and olfactory talents in a multisensory experience. In 2005, Hemispheres was screened in the Short Film Corner at the Cannes International Film Festival.

The research within Nalls’ work has made a lasting scholastic impact in the field of neuroscience, ever since “The Importance of Natural Olfactory Stimulation on the Perception of Well-Being and Happiness”, was published by the New York Academy of Sciences featured in the 2007 book Linking Affect to Action: Critical Contributions of the Orbitofrontal Cortex. In 2014, her essay “The Sensuous Immortal” was published in the book, Rendezvous with the Sensuous: Readings on Aesthetics. More recently, she created the essay with photographs “The Politics of Perfume Objects”, published in the 2016 book, For the Deeper Meaning: Fragrance as Medium in Art, Design and Communication. Published articles can be found in Nautilus Magazine, Psychology Today and other publications.