"Caress of Water" Memory Jug by Michael Thompson

$8,000 USD
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W: 19.0" D: 18.0" H: 13.0"
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Based in Chicago, IL, contemporary artist Michael Thompson creates unique kites, collages and mixed media works assembled from material fragments of past and present collected in his travels. In his ongoing series of memory jugs, Thompson adorns stoneware vessels with a kaleidoscope of ceramic shards, found objects, and pocket-sized trinkets he collected over the course of his life.

Also known as forget-me-not jugs or spirit jars, memory jugs are African American folk art objects that honor a loved one who has recently passed. Small tokens and mementos of the deceased are gathered and affixed to the exterior of a jug or vase, an abundance of memories that celebrates a life lived to the fullest.

Michael Thompson applies this tradition to his own practice, creating tactile assemblages of this and that. Formed in the manner of collage, each jug honors the lost memories of generations past and his own memories of personally discovering each item. With varied sources for materials including Kyoto, Turkey, and Mexico, a great number of the found shards are 18th and 19th century ceramics Thompson gathered from the Thames River at low tide in a practice known as “mudlarking.”

Fragments of blue-and-white porcelain swirl in currents around the base of this large earthenware jar entitled “Caress of Water,” swelling and receding like the churning tides. Ceramic figurines, serveware, and objets d'art merge and fuse into waves of bold blue color, each glazed in the style of Chinese export, majolica, talavera and chinoiserie wares. To form the collage, well-placed shards are plastered to the side of a found jug with mottled brown glaze. The jar itself is brushed with a blue floral motif and marked by a repaired hairline crack, preserved in the spirit of collage or kintsugi. The amalgam of forms that comprise the jug’s relief achieves a continuous, amorphous surface texture, contrasted - upon closer inspection - by the delicate, ornate details of the individual fragments.

"Caress of Water," 2024
Michael Thompson
Porcelain shards and found objects on stoneware vessel.

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Michael Thompson

b. 1951

Based in Chicago, IL, contemporary artist Michael Thompson creates unique kites, collages and mixed media works assembled from material fragments of past & present. 

His body of work spans across a range of art forms, from experimental postal art to paper collage to sculptures assembled from scrap metal and ceramic shards.

Regardless of the medium, each of Thompson’s works is layered with fragments of past lives and bygone memories, measured in the form of antique fabric remnants, printed ephemera and other found elements collected during his travels.



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Andrea Goldman | Andrea Goldman Design

“Over the years, I’ve incorporated many pieces from PAGODA RED into my designs. Not only can they balance new furnishings (and often new construction) by feeling more established, but the pieces emanate a sense of rich history, often leaving you wondering where they were in a previous life. These beautiful pieces carefully hand-selected by the team at PAGODA RED, coupled with their unbelievable customer service, make them a must-have for any home.”

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