Born in 1951 in Fort Belvoir , Virginia and raised in Honolulu , Hawaii , Robert's formal education ended after one year of college. He apprenticed with a professional lampworker for two years in the mid-seventies and then sold his own designs at outdoor craft fairs for ten years. In 1987 he took a class from Paul Stankard that opened his eyes to the possibilities of his medium. In 1989, he stopped doing craft shows and began marketing his work exclusively through galleries. Since then, his career has taken off. He shows his work in some of the finest galleries in the country and participates in prominent exhibitions each year. His work is exhibited in many prominent collections including the Renwick Gallery of American Crafts at the Smithsonian Institution, the Corning Museum of Glass, The Toledo Museum of Art, The Carnegie Museum of Art, The Mint Museum, The Cleveland Museum of Art, The Museum of American Glass at Wheaton Village , and the Pilchuck Glass School .
He has taught extensively at the major glass schools including the Pilchuck Glass School , Penland School of Crafts, The Studio at the Corning Museum of Glass, and The Eugene Glass School. He has filmed and produced two videos on his flameworking process, and he has designed and maintains an elaborate web page dedicated to his own work and the galleries that represent him (www.mickelsenstudios.com). He has published numerous technical and historical articles on flameworked glass. He served for six years on the board of directors of the Glass Art Society and was their treasurer and vice-president.
I am primarily interested in the personal expression of ideas and feelings and how the resulting sculptures fit into the environment of our lives. I believe strongly in the uniqueness of my own vision and strive to express it in the purest and most honest way possible. This often means stepping completely away from the traditional forms that have always been associated with my chosen medium (glass) and embracing forms, materials, and techniques that are not only non-traditional, but even controversial. I believe in breaking rules to achieve what I want and revel in the disapproval this approach often generates. I identify myself less and less with the material and technique of glass and more and more simply with living the life of an artist, making work that fulfills my need to be creative.
The objects I create are narratives… personal vignettes that reveal the secrets of my innermost thoughts. These are often mysteries even to me until the creative process reveals them and so the work becomes a form of self-discovery. The work provides me with a path to understanding things that I otherwise would not be aware of and sharing them with others who can then identify those things within themselves.