Donald Prell, 91, met Herron alumnus Rinaldo Paluzzi during an exhibition in Los Angeles. “I purchased one of his paintings in September 1960 for $360,” said Prell, “which in today’s dollars would be $2,875.”
Prell observed that Paluzzi’s body of work is impressive. He called on Herron via email to inquire as to why there was no official school entry for this notable alumnus on Wikipedia, or the school’s website.
Explanations about Wikipedia’s status (does not count as publishing in the eyes of some scholars) and referral to Herron’s website for an obituary—Paluzzi died in 2013 at the age of 85—even a copy of Herron’s history book, The Herron Chronicle; well, Prell was having none of it.
“He deserved to have his own page in Wikipedia,” Prell said. “He is a notable graduate of Herron, and the school should be proud to list him as a notable member of its alumni.”
The continuing conversation stimulated Prell and the school. Since Prell lives in California, the likelihood of a trip to Indiana to answer his questions in person is doubtful. He was so committed to his idea that he did more than create a Wikipedia page himself for Rinaldo Paluzzi, asking the school to vet the information. With a philanthropic gift to Herron, he created the Donald Prell Fellowship in Art History, to support budding art historians in telling a fuller story of Herron’s notable alumni. Paluzzi’s will be first story told.
Taylor Townsell, a senior majoring in art history, is the first Prell Fellow. She transferred to Herron from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. The art history faculty nominated her for the Prell Fellowship based on her demonstrated abilities in research, analysis and writing. She will have a year to complete her assignment. She has shrewdly negotiated a deal with an English professor to submit her paper on Paluzzi in fulfillment of an ethnographic research assignment as well.
“Waking up one day and having this email from Jennifer Lee [associate professor of art history] saying ‘You are the perfect person for this,’ made me feel very grateful,” said Townsell. “I got a research fellowship as an undergraduate!”
“I am excited to research Paluzzi’s body of work in detail. I will be interviewing some people in the area that knew him. I am really excited that I’ll be able to use local resources.”
Townsell noted what a wonderful thing Donald Prell has done. “I feel that not much is given to Art History,” she said. “I was surprised by this proposition. This will add a lot of interest about art history to Herron.”
In subsequent years, the subject may be any notable Herron alumna or alumnus, to add to the body of knowledge about Herron alumni. The Prell Fellow will produce an analytical research paper or an equivalent product in another medium, perhaps for conference presentation or submission to a peer-reviewed publication.
In the meantime, Prell has become fascinated by the life of John Herron. In addition to the school, he has contacted the Indiana State Library, the Indianapolis Museum of Art and University Library at IUPUI to satisfy his thirst for knowledge. May all Herron students be as diligent.