Nolan Baumgartner

Artist Statement

My work has transitioned over the years, moving from my functional roots to sculptural, figurative, and mixed media, and then finally back to its functional origins. While exploring figurative work, I focused on anonymous, faceless (sometimes upper-body-less) characters, whose only clues to their meaning are their posture and stance and how they are interacting with the environment. My sculptural forms have given way to a more microcosmic expression of functionality.

I focus on making work that can be used comfortably and easily, all the while maintaining a sense of beauty and splendor. In the grand tradition of borrowing, my forms and surfaces are influenced by an Asian and Middle Eastern aesthetic, and translated through my hands and eyes. To be more (or possibly less) specific, I want my work to vaguely reference some sort of thing you’ve seen before, but you’re not quite sure where. The surface is defined with polka dots, ellipses, and “lotus” petals that I render in slips and glaze, which are mapped out based on proportional relationships to the form. After the precise formation and decoration, the elements and atmosphere of the soda kiln complete the work. Ultimately, the interaction of the glazes, slips, and fire obscure, yet enhance, the preconceived cogency of the patterns.

-- Nolan Baumgartner


Nolan Baumgartner is an artist in residence at the Armory Art Center in West Palm Beach, FL. He received his BFA from the University of Utah in 2001, and his MFA in ceramics from Cranbrook Art Academy in 2004. A Utah native, he is a practicing studio potter and artist who shows in local and national exhibitions. He has taught at Oakland County Community College in Auburn Hills, MI, and he taught at the University of Utah from 2006 to 2015 as an Assistant Professor/Lecturer (ceramics and 3D foundations).