Status message

Your information has been submitted.

  Printer Friendly Version

Matt Nolen

Biography to Display: 

1960 Born Key West, Florida


Gadsden Museum School, Gadsden Museum of Art, Gadsden, Alabama

BA Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama

1983 Bachelor of Architecture, Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama

1985 Masters of Architecture, Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia


1998, 1999, 2001 Arts in Industry Program, Kohler Company, Kohler, Wisconsin

Mary Schiller Myers Residency, Meyers School of Art, University of Akron, Akron, Ohio

Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio

Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland, Ohio

Residency Leader, Banff Center for the Arts, Alberta, Canada


1995—Ceramic artist

1991— Adjunct Professor of Art, New York University, New York, New York

2002—Ceramics Area Coordinator, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York


Matt Nolen uses earthenware with a majolica surface techniques to create intricately decorated surfaces requiring five to six firings. He uses decals and/or printed words to complete the visual message of the surface. Nolan has consistently used his work to comment on social, sexual and political issues.

He began his career using the vessel form while pushing the boundaries of function.

His largest work, The Social History of Architecture, is a washroom he completed in 1998 at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, WI. In this installation he depicts private rituals in public spaces to explore the relationships of man and architecture. He then went on to create, “Public Garden, Private Garden I and II,” two public restrooms at the Meyers School of Art at the University of Akron in Akron, Ohio.

Nolan has also created a number of sculptures, often busts that also explore and comment on political and social issues confronting the artist. As he says, “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.”

Printmaking has also been a part of Nolen’s studio practice. He created a series of prints titled, City-States, each of which has porcelain speech balloons that share the thoughts of the people in the images.

Public Collections

Public Collections to Display: 

Banff Centre for the Arts, Banff, Alberta, Canada

Cooper-Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, New York, New York

De Young Memorial Museum, San Francisco, California

Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, New York

Gadsden Museum of Art, Gadsden, Alabama

John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, Wisconsin

Meyers School of Art, University of Akron, Ohio

Museum of Arts and Design, New York, New York

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas

Newark Museum, Newark, New Jersey

Racine Art Museum, Racine, Wisconsin



Bibliography to Display: 

Adkins, Gretchen. “The Tulip Vase.” Ceramics: Art and Perception 25 (1996).

“Architectural Ornamentation.” Ceramics Monthly (February 2003).

Del Vecchio, Mark. Postmodern Ceramics. New York, NY: Thames and Hudson Inc., 2001.

Dormer, Peter. The New Ceramics: Trends and Tradition, 2nd edition. New York, NY: Thames and Hudson Inc., 1994.

“Emerging Talent.” Ceramics Monthly (November 1992).

Ferrin, Leslie. Teapots Transformed. Madison, WI: Guild Publishing, 2001.

Folk, Dr. Thomas. "Matt Nolen's Crusade for Healing." Ceramics: Art and Perception 21 (1995).

Gess, Terry, editor. 500 Pitchers: Contemporary Expressions of a Classic Form. Asheville, NC: Lark Books, 2006.

Lawrence, Lee Adair. “Art with Words.” American Style 6 (Fall 1996).

Lovelace, Joyce. “Rest Rooms.” American Craft (August/September 1999).

Mathieu, Paul. Sexpots: Eroticism in Ceramics, London, England: A & C Black Publishers Limited, 2003.

__________. “Speaking Volumes: Pottery and Words.” The Studio Potter 35, no.2 (2007).

“Matt Nolen.” American Ceramics 10, no.1 (Spring 1992).

Missett, Kate. “Grotesque Garden: Matt Nolen.” Ceramics: Art and Perception 88 (2012).

Nolen, Matt. “Artist as Citizen.” The Studio Potter 27, no. 2 (June 1999).

Ostermann, Matthias. The Ceramic Narrative. London, England: A&C Black Publishers Limited, 2006.

Peters, Lynn. Surface Decoration for Low Fire Ceramics. Asheville, NC: Lark Books, 1999.

“Portfolio.” American Craft 52, no. 2 (April/May 1992).

Rothman, Ann. “When Artists Use Words.” Ceramics: Art and Perception 26 (1996).

Schwartz, Judith, Confrontational Ceramics. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008.

Scott, Paul. Painted Clay: Graphic Arts and the Painted Surface. London, England: A&C Black Publishers Limited, 2002.

Slesin, Suzanne. “With Cups Raised to a High Art Form.” New York Times, January 7, 1993.

“Think Tanks.” Metropolis 11, no.5 (December 1991).


CV or Resume: Click Here to Download
Source: Elaine Levin Archive, University of Southern California


Artist's Studio: Nolen Studios


Typical Marks
ca 2014
Break Out Teapot
Date: 2005
Materials: Porcelain
Photo: Loren Maron
Photo: Loren Maron
Photo: Loren Maron
More Milk, Less War Pitcher
Date: ca 2014
Materials: Porcelain
Photo: Loren Maron
Photo: Loren Maron
Photo: Loren Maron
Photo: Loren Maron
You Sure Are Drinking A Lot
Date: 1996
Form: Goblet
Materials: Porcelain
Method: Thrown
Surface Technique: Glaze
Judith and Martin Schwartz Collection
Photo: John Polak
Judith and Martin Schwartz Collection
Photo: John Polak
Photo: John Polak
Photo: John Polak

Citation: "The Marks Project." Last modified October 7, 2019.