Thielen grew up in Pierre, S.D., and received his bachelor’s degree in art education from Northern State College in Aberdeen, S.D. He also has a master’s degree from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. Thielen’s artwork has been shown around the country, and he has been a juror for art exhibits around Illinois.
“The issues behind my work are personal and autobiographical. I work with these issues because they are my attempt to find my own true identity in a diverse social structure,” says Thielen.
Among the many awards Thielen has received over the years include the Jo Ritz Memorial Award in 2000, the Robert Cooke and Rossanna Enlow Memorial Purchase Awards, the Evansville Museum Contemporaries Purchase Award, the Herman Moore Purchase Award in 1993 and many more.
Thielen has presented invitational exhibitions all across the country, from California to New York.