Glass Art Society Awards

Each year, the Glass Art Society honors and acknowledges individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the development of the glass arts worldwide.  The 2019 awards will be presented to this year's honorees, Ginny Ruffner and Robert Mickelsen, at the opening ceremony of the conference on Thursday, March 28, 2019. 


Ginny Ruffner

 Lifetime Artistic Achievement Award: Ginny Ruffner, Seattle, Washington 

Ginny Ruffner was born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1952. Ruffner trained at the University of Georgia as a painter, graduating with honors and an MFA in painting. She has had 88 solo shows, several hundred group shows, and her work is in 55 permanent museum and public collections around the world. Seattle public art installations include a 30-foot tall kinetic water feature downtown and a permanent installation in the Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park. Recent Augmented Reality projects include Weston Riff at Photo Center NW, Branches at Seattle International Film Festival and Poetic Hybrids at Seattle Art Museum. She has written two books and been the subject of an award winning, full-length documentary titled A Not So Still Life, the Ginny Ruffner Story. Ruffner has lectured and taught extensively and served as an artist-in-residence numerous times at schools and universities around the world.

In the early 1980s, when Ginny Ruffner moved to Seattle, she burst on the glass art scene with her distinctive style of lampworking and sculpture--bold, colorful, bigger than life--just like her personality. Ruffner was at the top of her career when an automobile accident left her severely injured and in a coma for six weeks. Defying the odds, she fought to regain her ability to talk, walk, and work as an artist. In a true testament to her spirit, her creativity and artistic endeavors have only grown and expanded and her brilliant mind continues to explore new ideas.

Since the 1990s, Ruffner has continued to thrive artistically living and working out of her Ballard studio in Seattle, Washington, unassuming from the outside, but astounding on the inside. She is surrounded by her drawings, sculptures, and a beautiful hidden garden. She continues to make art that surprises, inspires and adds beauty to the world around her including large public works around the globe and a steady stream of exhibitions.

Her upcoming exhibition, Reforestation of the Imagination (ROTI) at the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum will run from June 28, 2019-January 5, 2020. ROTI combines traditional sculpture with Augmented Reality (AR). By using technology to overlay digital information onto sculptural objects, two disparate environments are portrayed. Her drawings literally leap of off her glass sculptures and into the air.

Ginny is the epitome of resiliency. Her ability to push her art and imagination into new realms never ceases to amaze and inspire everyone she meets.

GINNY RUFFNER PHOTO CREDIT: Mary Van Cline, taken as part of The Documenta Project, a not-for-profit project with a mission to build an archival collection of photos of the contemporary glass art movement. For more information, go HERE. 


Robert Mickelsen

Lifetime Membership Award Recipient: Robert Mickelsen, Ocala, Florida

Robert Mickelsen was born in 1951 in Fort Belvoir, Virginia and was raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. Although his formal education ended after one year of college, he apprenticed with a professional lampworker for a number of years and was inspired by Paul Stankard after taking his class. He credits this experience with expanding his vision of what was possible when working with glass. Mickelsen is attracted to nontraditional techniques and forms, often using the “networking” technique which results in light, low volume forms defined by intricate lattice and thin glass rods. The process is slow and meditative and not as immediate as blowing glass. Mickelsen’s works can take days or even weeks to complete.

In addition to making art, he served on the board of the Glass Art Society for six years as treasurer and vice-president. Mickelsen has taught extensively at major glass schools including the Pilchuck Glass School, Penland School of Crafts, The Studio at the Corning Museum of Glass, UrbanGlass, and the Pittsburgh Glass Center. He has also filmed and produced two videos of his flameworking process and published numerous articles. Mickelsen’s work is exhibited in many prominent galleries and collections including the Renwick Gallery of American Crafts at the Smithsonian Institute, the Corning Museum of Glass, the Toledo Museum of Art, the Museum of Arts and Design, the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Mint Museum, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and the Museum of America Glass at Wheaton Village.

Mickelsen continues to work in his Ocala, Florida studio, pushing the boundaries of what he can achieve with glass.

The Glass Art Society reserves the right to deny applications for Technical Display, advertising participation, GAS membership or the conference from anyone for any reason.