While a student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, a competition was announced to create a kite and fly it on our lakefront campus. The prize was a case of beer and my friend and I decided that we needed to win this contest. We made a round kite, six feet in diameter, but the day of the competition dawned windless and our kite never left the ground.
I found that I enjoyed the kite form; it was like painting, but without the inherent solemnity of stretched canvas. They could be fun and spontaneous and I began experimenting with their construction. My girlfriend got me a show hanging a series of them in the lobby of the Goodman Theatre, and I have been making them ever since.
I employ split bamboo poles for making the kite frames. It is such a wonderful material, incredibly strong, pliable, and when heated, it can be bent into almost any shape and retain its buoyancy. I have used it to create a kite one hundred feet in length that hung in the atrium of the Marshall Field's flagship store on Michigan Avenue in Chicago.
The kites are simultaneously delicate, robust, referential, and unique. They borrow from traditions of kite-flying, calligraphy, abstraction, sculpture, and collage to create particular objects.

Michael Thompson

Michael Thompson is an artist living in Chicago. His kites hang in a casino in Macau, a 260' yacht, hotels, and restaurants, and they have been seen in numerous movies and television shows.