From rocks and trees, creatures would reveal themselves to art professor Duane Mickelson and after his death his legacy stays alive through his art.
Mickelson was known for finding and seeing things in nature that others would pass by. He used those fragments of wood or other found objects to create beautiful works of art. Other art forms also spoke to Mickelson, but his Woodland Creatures were a signature art form for the artist.
Mickelson died in 2015 after living with brain cancer for 23 years. He was honored by friends and art lovers in January at the Rourke Art Gallery and Museum in Moorhead at the kickoff of an art show titled “All Creatures, Great and Small: A Memorial Exhibition in Honor of Duane K. Mickelson.” At the event, the museum began the public phase of a fundraiser to name a gallery in honor of Mickelson and the Duane K. Mickelson Memorial Endowed Scholarship in the Arts at Concordia. The gallery will allow Mickelson’s works to be on display at the Rourke indefinitely.
“It is a tremendous honor for our institution to be tasked with the role of perpetuating his legacy,” says museum director Jonathan Rutter.
Mickelson’s spouse, the Rev. Karla Mickelson, spoke at the gallery opening about Duane’s imaginative and creative way he’d view the world. He would wake up to fresh tracks in the snow at their acreage by the lake and wonder what had happened with those critters the night before.
“He allowed us to see the world with fresh eyes,” Karla Mickelson says. “He’d pick out a texture or a shape and he’d expand the way of seeing the world.”
A 1974 Concordia graduate, Duane Mickelson taught at the college for 35 years. As a professor of art, he inspired his students to create and rework their art and gave them a confidence to keep making art.
Heidi Goldberg, chair of the art department, worked alongside Mickelson and spoke of what art does to the mind and the heart and the ways in which he sustained those gifts.
“Duane was a gifted and passionate artist,” Goldberg says. “He was a natural teacher and believed in passing on the gifts he was given.”
To give to the Duane K. Mickelson Memorial Scholarship, you can donate online. Please note "Duane Mickelson Memorial Scholarship" in the comments section.
To give to the gallery initiative, contact Heidi Goldberg at 218.299.4624 or firstname.lastname@example.org.