Robert Thomas Mullen is a contemporary jeweler and educator. Currently, Robert teaches at Craft Alliance and additionally maintains a studio in St. Louis, MO. His work is represented by Penland Gallery, The Metals Museum, Craft Alliance, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, Union Studio, Lux Center for the Arts, In Tandem Gallery, and several others.
Throughout his career, Robert’s work has been featured in publications such as New Brooches, On Body and Soul, Behind the Brooch, and Showcase 500 Rings and exhibited both nationally and internationally. After receiving his BFA from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Robert continued his studies by completing an MFA from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania.
As an artist, Robert delights in those rare parts of the natural world so often unseen. Robert’s work is an ebullient celebration of nature itself, drawing breath and inspiration from both new and old, remembered and forgotten. The materials for his pieces have been collected and curated over the span of a lifetime spent waiting for the perfect piece.
“As I grow older and the world becomes increasingly more complicated, I look to create beautiful and simple forms. In a world of sensory overload and social media, I encourage myself to always give a quiet moment to sit and reflect. A moment to focus on the overlooked.”
Comparing materials that look similar but are very different allows Robert to incorporate different design elements, which is a fundamental aspect of Robert’s work. He desires to create meaningful pieces of handmade, elegant jewelry representative of a changing world. Robert’s collection of eclectic raw materials spans epochs, from petrified wood and mammoth tusk to stalactites and dinosaur egg.
Encasing precious natural materials like flower petals, butterfly wings, leaves, and even dirt, Robert puts form and function into his work. He draws heavily from the human experience, using materials which are symbolic of life’s seldom tame but often tragic journey. The ineffable passage of time, the absolute realities of loss and change and tragedy are reflected in his usage of materials like hair, funeral flowers, and even bone.
Robert’s work is an examination of the many parts that make us whole. His usage of unique and rare materials provides a substance which makes each piece a meaningful collaboration between the intricate union of Art and Earth.