Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Teapots: An Invitational - Warren MacKenzie Stillwater, MN

Warren MacKenzie Teapot $150
stoneware, Shaner clear glaze over white crackle slip
with bamboo handle (8.5" x 7" x 6")
Working with clay gives me the permission to be myself in a culture regulated by uniformity.  It becomes my Declaration of Independence against the assembly line and the factory-produced, and it seeks to bring the world a response to these static indoctrinations.
Pottery brings me joy when I explore it with my senses; I love running my fingertips over the marks a potter made when creating a vessel.  I learn a significant amount by simply touching a pot.  My pottery is meant to be touched, held and used. 

It offers a harmony of simplicity and warm intimacy.  I try to make pots that are friendly, that beckon people to pick them up and experience their character.  Earlier styles I meddled in began with machined perfectionism and moved swiftly away to off-kilter wonkiness. 

Presently, I am at the in-between, finding beauty in the subtle and simple.  I liken my pots to people and aim for honest personality in every piece.  My pots are made of a high-fired stoneware or porcelain clay body.  I have chosen these clay bodies for their wheel throwing properties and coloring, as ell as their glazing and firing personalities.  I fire my pots in a high-temperature reduction atmosphere; this produces both desirable depth in the glaze and structural integrity in the finished work.

Warren was born in Kansas City, MO in 1924.  He studied art at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.  He apprenticed, along with his wife, Alix, with Bernard Leach in England for two years, 1950-52.  Warren began his long a illustrious teaching career at the University of Minnesota in 1953, retiring as Professor Emeritus in 1990.  He has been a studio potter at his rural Stillwater, Minnesota home and studio since 1953.  Numerous awards, including Honorary Fellow of both the American Crafts Council and NCECA, Minnesota Governor's Award, Gold Medal from the American Crafts Council and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Minnesota Crafts Council.  Warren MacKenzie is regarded as a true master of 20th Century ceramic art, as one of America's greatest living potters and continues to be an inspiration to thousands of clay artists, collectors and ceramic aficionados.

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