‘Imagining a Better World: the Artwork of Nelly Toll’ at the Decorative Arts Center of Ohio

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From 1943 to 1945, young artist Nelly Toll was in hiding from Nazis occupying Lwow, Poland with her mother, the two of them often sharing but a small, bare room. Throughout that time, Toll was armed with only a set of watercolors and her imagination, resulting in dozens of beautiful and fascinating images. Forty archival prints of some of these images are on display September 15, 2018 through December 30, 2018 at the Decorative Arts Center of Ohio in Lancaster as a part of an exhibition entitled Imagining a Better World: the Artwork of Nelly Toll.

WOUB’s Emily Votaw spoke to Alex Coon, the Executive Director of the Massillon Museum, where the exhibition originates from, about the significance of Toll’s work in contemporary times. Listen to the whole interview, embedded above.

Also, take a look at the photos of the exhibition, which are featured below.

Three of the first paintings that welcome visitors when they first enter the exhibition of Nelly Toll’s work. From left to right, “Playing Dominoes,” “All Alone,” and “Girls in the Field.” (WOUB Public Media/Emily Votaw)
A number of Toll’s paintings in her “Growing Up” series, which was intended to follow several children through their first days in kindergarten to secondary school. (WOUB Public Media/Emily Votaw)
“Talking With Mother In the Green Salon.” (WOUB Public Media/Emily Votaw)
A number of Toll’s paintings in the third room of the exhibition, featuring more fanciful subjects such as those from her “Cinderella” series. (WOUB Public Media/Emily Votaw)
One of Toll’s more recent works, from 2016. Entitled “Imagining a Better World.” (WOUB Public Media/Emily Votaw)

Affiliated Events

On Sunday, October 28, the Decorative Arts Center of Ohio has arranged a “Conversation with Nelly Toll,” which will take place starting at 2 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church (163 E.  Wheeling Street, Lancaster,) admission to which is $5 for members/$8 for non-members pre-order, and $10 at the door. The event will feature Toll telling her story and will be followed by a question and answer period.

On Thursday, October 25 at 7 p.m. the Drexel Theater (2254 E. Main Street, Columbus, OH) will screen Sugihara: Conspiracy of Kindness, a documentary that spotlights the little-known story of Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara who heroically saved the lives of thousands of Jewish refugees seeking refuge in Europe. A question and answer period with filmmaker diane estelle Vicari will follow. Tickets are $10. Presented in conjunction with the Jewish Federation of Columbus,

The Wendel Center for Art Education presents watercolor classes in conjunction with Imagining a Better World: The Artwork of Nelly Toll. Each class, taught by Lisa Schorr, and will explore the use of watercolor in the context of Toll’s work and life experience.

What If

Children’s watercolor class, ages 9-15

Saturdays, November 3, 10, 17, 24 | 10am-noon $75/$68 member, supplies provided
What if I use a stick to paint instead of my brush? What if I make a purple tree, instead of green? What if I paint myself climbing Mt. Everest? Let’s see together. The class will tour the exhibition and explore Nelly Toll’s What If paintings.

Tell Your Own Story in Watercolor

Adult/Teen Class Saturdays, November 3, 10,17, 24 | 1pm-3pm $75/$68 member, supplies provided
After the class visits the exhibition to see Nelly Toll’s world through the eyes of a child, participants will recapture the winsomeness of their own imaginations and the freedom to play with watercolors. No experience necessary.