Michael Mikula is always looking up – examining the built environment for its patterns, forms and details to spark his imagination. Early to mid twentieth century Art Deco structures most often attract his attention. Designers in this period utilized and celebrated craftsmanship and ornament as important components and Michael is drawn to the optimistic nature of the era.
For more than two decades, Michael has explored a process using multipart graphite molds as a tool to reinterpret architecture in blown glass, highlighting the visual effects of positive and negative form in this transparent material. He calls the resulting body of work “Architectural Blown Glass.” Industrial architectural landscapes and the restless energy of cities point the way for this body of work, with references to the effects of time and remembrance of place.
With a jazz-like sense of improvisation, Michael composes each mold from a large and growing library of interchangeable parts that he mills and hand carves. As a result, no two compositions are ever alike. Once cooled, the resulting deeply dimensional blown forms are cut open, polished, and thoughtfully recomposed within an integral metal armature of anodized aluminum and stainless steel. This custom structural system is “built to last the ages” and can be scaled up for larger installations. Michael also continues to make a series of related functional and sculptural blown glass vessels that were the genesis of the current sculptures, using the same graphite mold elements.
Born 1963 in Grand Junction, Colorado and raised in Chautauqua County, New York, Michael earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Cleveland Institute of Art in 1987. He has also studied at the Pilchuck Glass School in Washington, the Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina and the (now defunct) Fundacio Centre del Vidre in Barcelona, Spain.
Michael continues to live and work in Cleveland, Ohio where he has been a part of a studio cooperative since 1996. In 2009 he was awarded a $20,000 Creative Workforce Fellowship grant, generously funded by the people of Cuyahoga County, Ohio and administered by Community Partnership For Arts and Culture/Cuyahoga Arts and Culture.
Michael was awarded an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award for 2013.