Warren MacKenzie has turned 90. He’s still potting and he’s still the most important figure in workshop pottery in United States. He and his first wife Alix were Bernard Leach’s first American apprentices at St. Ives, Cornwall from 1949 to 1952. He brought the Leach brand of pottery to the U.S. on his return, joining the University of Minnesota. He was an art professor there until his retirement. He is now a Regent’s professor emeritus.
Among his students are Randy Johnston, Mike Norman, Jeff Oestreich, Wayne Branum, Mark Pharis, Barbara Diduk, Paul Dresang, Shirley Johnson, Michael Brady, Sandy Simon, and E.A. (Mike) Mikkelsen.
CFile has compiled a video tribute to to this great ceramic master. Some might know of the feud between CFile’s Chief Editor Garth Clark and MacKenzie, which has gone on for a few years. The subject of the feud is not MacKenzie’s work but differing ideas on the marketplace.
When it comes to MacKenzie’s pots, Clark is a fan, “when we gave our collection to the Museum of Fine Arts-Houston, among the pots I missed most was a white bowl and a tall barrel-shaped vase with his seal impressed front and center. They were always in our home and never failed to grow sensually. He is a remarkable potter and imbues the best of his vessels with a mystery that is realized very slowly through touch and use. Now we have new ones. They’re display plates, (although he would hate that term) and smaller everyday pots for the kitchen. We are learning to know them.”
Above image: Warren MacKenzie
Any thoughts about this post? Share yours in the comment box below.
Warren MacKenzie at the Leach Pottery Master Class in September 2013. Video courtesy of Senara Wilson Hodges.
MacKenzie via Minnesota Original.
MacKenzie at work in the studio. “Pots are a communication between the person who makes them and the person who uses them.”
MacKenzie reflects on visiting with high school students and making pots versus making art.
From the same interview. MacKenzie discussing teaching pottery, reflecting how one instructor directed his students to make a perfect cylinder and how those students “struggled like hell” to complete the assignment. “Start out making open bowls,” MacKenzie said. “First of all they’re fairly easy to make. Secondly, you can experiment with forms.”
MacKenzie discusses creativity, stating that art sneaks in to people’s day-to-day lives even in places in the world where people are struggling.
MacKenzie interviewed at the Huntington Museum of Art. Video courtesy of the museum.
A three-part interview with MacKenzie in which the potter discusses his influence on artists and the ceramics scene in Minnesota.
From the teaser for the documentary A Potter’s Hands, featuring MacKenzie.