Michael Thomsen: 100 Creatives


Number 48: Michael Thomsen

City: Minneapolis

Years spent living in MN: My whole life

Artist Michael Thomsen somehow manages to make the pieces of his found-object sculptures look as though they fit together like a puzzle. His three-dimensional collages are both whimsical and dark, filled with angels whose innards are both organic and mechanical, carousel horses that carry devils and butterflies, and animal skulls arranged in alter-like wall hangings. There is often a bit of a carnival vibe to his work, which is fitting as his great uncle ran one himself in the '70s. Thomsen's family has obviously been a great influence in his art in general; one grandfather worked at the auctions, while the other built clocks and violins.

In addition to unusual sculpture and collage work, the artist has also created films and drawings that are equally fascinating during his 20-year-career.


[jump] Name three things that are inspiring your work right now:

  1. Mythology

  2. Religion

  3. The Occult

Name three things that inspired and/or motivated you as a budding creative type:

  1. My grandfathers

  2. Nature

  3. Found objects

What was your last big project?

I had a solo show at the Rogue Buddha Gallery entitled "Curio" which was a retrospective of my work over the past 20 years. It also included the debut of six new pieces and my short film, entitled Cento.

What do you have going on now or coming up in the near future that should be on our radar?

The aforementioned short film, Cento, will be made into a long-form art film. It's a highly visual documentary of my work and the concepts behind it. It includes footage that has been shot over the past 10 or so years, everything from nature scenes to detail shots of my work and my environment.

Creative/career high point (so far)?

This year has been probably one of my biggest yet. I had a solo show at St. Cloud State University, the retrospective at Rogue Buddha, and my film is on its way to being finished.

What has been your biggest challenge as a creative type?


Every day is a challenge in some way, shape, or form when you're an artist. It could be that a piece is not coming together correctly, or perhaps the work is not selling. Financial concerns are always there, but at the end of the day, my creative output is something that I have to do, no matter what.

How has the Minnesota scene changed since you began working here?

It's been interesting to watch the evolution of the northeast Minneapolis art scene since I moved to Minneapolis from Austin in the early '90s. The way that the art community has grown and how the neighborhood has flourished is pretty cool. Minneapolis has always had a great art scene, it just goes through different phases.

What's one item you own that you could never replace or throw away?

My guitar. It's a Harmony Archtop thrift store guitar that I refurbished. Also, my grandfather's Masonic jewelry/accessories.

You have been given the power to change one thing about the Twin Cities art scene. What would you choose to do?


A perfect balance of patrons and artists! It would be great to see more people actually investing in local creatives.

Do you have a suggestion for someone whose work we should be checking out? Feel free to leave your top picks in the comments.

Past creatives, so far:

100. Jennifer Davis

99. Sean Smuda

98. Chuck U


96. Amy Rice


95. Kara Hendershot

70. Tim Sievert

67. Dessa

66. Heidi Arneson

65. Erin Currie

64. Jayme Halbritter

63. Amy Buchanan

62. Kimberly Jurek

61. Kenna-Camara Cottman

60. Joan Vorderbruggen

59. Amber Preston

58. Jenny Carle

57. Mad King Thomas

56. George Moskal

55. Gregory Euclide

54. Stacy Schwartz

53. Joshua English Scrimshaw

52. Courtney McLean

50. Andy Sturdevant

49. Erika Backberg