Michael Thomsen is an award-winning assemblage sculptor, musician and filmmaker living in Minneapolis, MN. Thomsen’s approach to filmmaking closely reflects that of his visual artwork, a beautifully converged narrative of mysterious objects, mood and wonder. In his sculpture work, Thomsen combines woodworking techniques, painting, assemblage and electrical wiring with discovered artifacts from thrift stores, flea markets and more—items that hold a human imprint. Over the past 10 years, Thomsen’s work has been exhibited locally and nationally, most recently at Parlor Gallery in Asbury Park, NJ and Alexi Era Gallery in St. Louis, MO. He will debut a major solo exhibition at Minneapolis contemporary art space, Public Functionary in Spring of 2015.
At 7 years of age, my first job was working for my grandfather, an auctioneer, who hired me to sort trunks and boxes full of trinkets and old-timey miscellanea. Over time, I began squirreling away the occasional sparkly bauble, old key or foreign coin until I amassed a cigar box full of my own unusual curios. I also spent much of my childhood with my other grandfather, who was a clockmaker, painter and violin maker. Other family members (who were formerly of the Danish Royal Circus) ran a carnival, which traveled up and down the coast of California in the 1970s.
My little box of treasures was the jumping off point and original inspiration for my mixed media sculpture work. Today my works are filled with Illuminated compartments and secret drawers; these shrines pay homage to the precious and the absurd, they are junk drawer orphanages and reliquaries to lost memories.
My creative process usually begins with one solitary object around which a story is built. I manipulate each piece to create a cohesive, yet labyrinthine whole. I combine woodworking techniques, painting, assemblage and electrical wiring with discovered artifacts from thrift stores, flea markets and more—items that hold a human imprint.
Each of my works tells a personal story to its viewer. One may recognize a familiar figurine or novelty piece from their childhood, or they may read into the symbolic iconography in their own unique way. Nostalgia is one of the most powerful emotions. It’s history and memory; love and pain. It can be comforting and alternately, uncomfortable. In my art, nostalgia plays a key roll, in both the literal and abstract. And although our memories may be different, that shared universal emotion is what connects the viewer to my work.