RAM Remembers Warren MacKenzie

We announce the recent death of the internationally known functional potter Warren MacKenzie at his home in Grant, Minnesota outside the Twin Cities on December 31, 2018. He was 94. This world-renowned ceramic artist was revered as one of the leading studio potters in the US. He influenced multiple generations of ceramic artists by serving on the faculty of the University of Minnesota from 1953 until 1990 and also by teaching workshops around the world. MacKenzie was known for wanting collectors to live with and use his pots instead of treating them as untouchable works of art.

MacKenzie was born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1924, and grew up in Wilmette, Illinois. He studied at the Art Institute of Chicago after the end of World War II. After unsuccessfully trying to sign up for painting classes, which were full, MacKenzie took ceramics instead. He quickly fell in love with the medium and set forth making pottery for more than 70 years. Following graduation, he taught at the St. Paul Gallery and School of Art before departing for England. There, MacKenzie studied with Bernard Leach, one of the 20th century’s most important studio potters, for over two years before returning to Minnesota. Upon his return, he purchased property in Grant where he continued to live and maintain a studio for the rest of his life, working in his studio until just a few months before his death.

MacKenzie’s years of teaching continuously brought him into contact with young students who were committed to working in clay. He was so influential that many artists purchased properties near his and established the area around Stillwater, Minnesota, in particular, and the St. Croix Valley, in general, as a center for ceramic activity.

His work is included in the collections of the: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Smithsonian’s National American Art Museum, Washington, DC; National Folk Art Museum, Tokyo; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; and RAM, which holds seven examples of his work. MacKenzie was a member of the American Craft Council’s College of Fellows and received the ACC’s prestigious Gold Medal for consummate craftsmanship in 1998.

For more information about this artist:
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Twin Cities Pioneer Press