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I Never Wanted to be Human Sized

  • Steve Nolan '08
  • I Never Wanted to be Human Sized
  • 2008
  • Gelatin silver print
  • 16 x 53.5 inches
  • Windgate Museum of Art Collection

Steve Nolan knew he wanted to attend Hendrix College after attending Arkansas Governor’s School on its campus. The institution’s academic reputation and liberal arts focus solidified his decision, and he enrolled in the fall of 2004.

Nolan knew he wanted to be an art major and soon grew heavily involved with the department, working as a Darkroom Monitor. A standout course at Hendrix was Professor Maxine Payne’s Alternative Processes class, in which Nolan created images using daguerreotypes, cyanotypes, polaroid transfers, and other old processes. The course taught him how much a photographic medium influences the resulting work of art.

Nolan created I Never Wanted to Be Human Sized as part of his senior portfolio, a study of the ability of visual images to convey a narrative. The body of work consists of large panels made to look like comic strips, depicting various dreamlike situations. This particular work draws inspiration from two distinct sources: The Human League’s song “Empire State Human” and Walt Whitman’s poem “When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer.”

The singer of “Empire State Human” expresses frustration at the perceived insignificance of his individual existence and hopes to grow bigger than human sized. But Whitman understands his smallness as a testament to the beauty and expansiveness of his surroundings. I Never Wanted to be Human Sized is thus informed by the sources’ competing reactions to the smallness of human experience: anger and wonder.

This work also served as an early exploration of both film and storytelling, each of which is an important element of Nolan’s current professional life. After graduating in 2008 with a B.A. in Art and a minor in Politics, he earned an MFA in Digital Filmmaking from the University of Central Arkansas. He now works as a freelance video producer and editor, creating marketing content for a variety of companies. He also has branched into fiction writing and is currently working on his second novel.

© Windgate Museum of Art at Hendrix College