"Pompeii" by Michael Thompson

$5,880 USD
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W: 10.5" D: 9.5" H: 8.0"
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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.”

Colorful porcelain miniatures of people, animals, flowers, and architectural elements burst from the surface of this earthenware jar entitled “Pompeii” to form a vivid, reticulated tableau. Cheekily titled after the preserved city of Pompeii, the discarded toys and figurines that encrust the sides of the vessel have been given new life as they ripple and merge, swirl and compress around the ceramic form. To form the collage, well-placed shards are plastered to the side of a found, brown glazed fermenting crock. 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. 

"Pompeii," 2023
Michael Thompson
Porcelain shards and found objects on stoneware vessel.

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Blue & White Porcelain

Soon after its development in the Yuan dynasty (1271–1368 AD), blue-and-white underglaze porcelain became a favorite of the imperial court. Its broad appeal rapidly extended beyond China’s borders, becoming a lucrative export commodity highly sought after in Europe, the Middle East, and beyond.

Using cobalt imported from Western Asia, ceramic artists ground the mineral into a vibrant blue pigment that was then painted directly on a porcelain base, coated with clear glaze, and fired. This underglaze technique brought with it a shift in focus from the overall shape of a vessel to the skill and artistry traceable in its painted decoration.

Transcending time and taste, blue-and-white porcelain continues to be appreciated around the world for the intricate brushwork and brilliant blue color.

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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Elizabeth Krueger | Elizabeth Krueger Design

“PAGODA RED was extremely supportive in helping to pull accessory options together for the Lake Forest Showhouse. After providing them with details and our vision on how we were looking to finish our space, Laurene helped curate options that made it easy for us to edit and finalize. It's also no surprise that the unique pieces we used in our showhouse space were some of the first to sell.”

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