William H. Thielen was born March 18, 1954 in Pierre, South Dakota, where he grew up.  He did his undergraduate studies in painting at Northern State University, Aberdeen, South Dakota from which he received a B.S. in Art in 1977 with a major in Painting and minors in Fibers and Sculpture.  At that time Thielen realized that in making his art he wanted a broader base from which to draw.  He, therefore, enrolled in graduate studies under M. Joan Lintault at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.  He received his M.F.A. in Fibers in 1980.

Just after completion of his terminal degree, the artist accepted an invitation to be a multimedia panelist in Fibre-Form-Fusion, an international conference held in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  Shortly thereafter, in 1982, he received a visual artist fellowship grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Mr. Thielen has received purchase awards from the Evansville (Indiana) Museum of Art and Science in 1993 and the Mitchell Museum, Mt. Vernon, Illinois, in 2002.   He has also received merit awards from the 31st Annual Quincy Show, Elizabeth Sinnock Gallery, Quincy, Illinois in 1981; the Alexandria Fine Arts Annual, Visual Art Center, Alexandria, Louisiana in 1982; the Self-Images show at the Associated Artist Gallery, Carbondale, Illinois in 1989; and the Evansville (Indiana) Museum of Art and Science in 2000.

In 1984 he was one of ten artists chosen from an international pool to participate in the Interchange Program at the Banff Center for the Arts, in Banff, Alberta, Canada.  This collection of emerging artists spent the summer studying with artists from the U.S., Canada, and Europe, including Francoise Grossen, Gary Trentham, Ritzi and Peter Jacobi, Mildred Constantine, Mariette Rousseau, Patterson Sims, and Judy Pfaff.


In 1984-85, Sandra McMorris Johnson and William H. Thielen took top honors in the NEA-funded Exhibition and Projects Competition at the Fiberworks  Gallery in Berkeley, California.  They were commissioned to mount a collaborative installation in Fiberworks’ main gallery.

In 1990, Thielen was one of only five artists chosen from a national pool in the "Big Art" competition of the Arts Festival of Atlanta.  His work was reproduced on a 12- by 48-foot billboard in the heart of downtown Atlanta for a period of over six months.

More recently, in 1992 and 1997, the artist was awarded an Expansion Arts Grant by the Southern Illinois Arts Council in conjunction with the Expansion Arts/Access program of the Illinois Arts Council.

The artist has conducted visiting artist lectures/critiques at:

Southeast Missouri State University, Cape Girardeau, 2009

Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, 2009

Southwest Missouri State University, Springfield, 2001

Western Illinois University, Macomb, 1998

Lockport Gallery, Lockport, Illinois, 1996

Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond, 1994

Vincennes University, Vincennes, Indiana, 1991

Truman University, Kriksville, Missouri, 1989

Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington, 1988

From 1990 to 2000, he was an active member on the Board of Advisors for the Gallery of Contemporary Art in New Harmony, Indiana.

In 1995-96, he was awarded a traveling exhibition curated and sponsored by the State of Illinois Museum and Galleries.  The exhibit  was featured at State of Illinois galleries at Ina, Lockport, and Chicago.

Thielen was a guest critic for the "Fall Arts Preview" in the Nuvo Newsweekly of Indianapolis in its September 14-21, 1994 issue.

Reviews of Thielen’s works have been published in the New Art Examiner (Sep., 1990), Art Week (June 1, 1985), the Los Angeles Times (June 4, 1981), Fiberarts magazine (July/Aug., 1985 & Sep./Oct., 1981), and numerous regional newspapers.  His work appeared in Soft Sculpture by Carolyn Vosburg Hall (1981, Davis Publications, Worcester, MA).

In 2002, the artist’s work was included in a invitational exhibit at Gary Snyder Fine Art in New York, titled “Five Hundred Abstract Works on Paper, 1922-2002.”  He was the only contemporary artist in the show mentioned in a review by N.F. Karlins in artnet magazine:  

William H. Thielen is currently a full-time studio artist, living and working in Carbondale, Illinois.



William H. Thielen
visual artist
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