As a painter, architect and storyteller, clay provides the means by which I can marry my loves: the painted surface, three dimensional form and narrative content. Ceramics gives me the language to communicate my stories to a world audience. The themes of my early work have included a broad range of social, political and psychological subjects.
Most recently I have turned to the figure as form departing from the lavishly painted vessels and tiled environments of previous works. In doing so the stories I am telling have become more personal and often are informed by the inner landscape of self: notions of shelter that explore what we protect and keep private vs. that which we choose to reveal, escape through dreams, and contemporary takes on ancient Greek and Roman portrait busts and the load bearing caryatid and atlas. I have also expanded my use of sculptural materials to include found objects, metal, wood and stone.
My figures tell the stories of those who are challenged by conflicts and are in the midst of emotional or psychological transitions. It is life lived within the complexity of these “margins” that interests me the most.
Nolen’s work has been written about and reviewed in many periodicals and books including The New York Times, American Ceramics, Ceramics Art and Perception, Masters of Craft, Confrontational Clay, Postmodern Ceramics and Painted Clay. He has been awarded a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, Mid Atlantic Foundation (regional NEA) Fellowship and international residencies in Israel and China. His residency at the Kohler Co.’s Art/Industry Program resulted in a handmade public washroom that has been named “Best Restroom in America” by the Cintas Corp. and among “The 10 Best Bathrooms in the World” by the Travel Channel. He has recently served as President of the Board of Trustees for Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts in Newcastle Maine and is Adjunct Professor of Art at New York University and Ceramics Area Coordinator at Pratt Institute. His work is represented by Stephen Romano Gallery, NY. www.nolenstudios.com