Warren MacKenzie: A Potter's Hands

MacKenzie's Timeline

Training and WWII Service

1924: Born

16 February: Childhood in Kansas City, Philadelphia, and Chicago suburbs.

1941-43: Student

Art Institute of Chicago, hard-edged geometric painter.

1943-46: World II Service

stationed in Yokohama, Japan as a silk-screen printer of army training posters.

1946-48: Student

Returns to Art Institute of Chicago and, finding the painting classes full, he enrolls in a ceramics class instead.

Marries Alix Kolesky, whom he met in a ceramics class. They collaborate artistically until her death from cancer in 1962.

Influenced by Bernard Leach’s “A Potter’s Book” and anthropological collection at the Chicago Field Museum.



Establishing a Reputation

1948: Career

Begins work at th St. Paul Gallery and School of Art in Minnesota.


Apprentices with Bernard Leach at The Leach Pottery in
St. Ives, Cornwall, England.

1953: Minnesota

Begins teaching at University of Minnesota. Establishes studio in Stillwater. Starts pottery studio with self-service sales room.


Exhibitions at the Walker Art Center and Rochester
Art Center.



Internationally Famous


Wife Alix dies of cancer. (1962)

Sabbatical from U of M.  Took daughters to Devonshire, England. (1963-64)

1st European exhibition, Primavera Gallery, London.


International traveling exhibition—Asia

 Works exclusively in porcelain.

 Studio destroyed in fire, rebuilds.


President, National Council for Education
in the Ceramic Arts.


Named one of the twelve greatest potters in the world by
Ceramics Monthly poll.

Marries Nancy Spitzer (1984)

Work acquired for 1st permanent museum collection.

Receives Governor’s Award in the Crafts. (1986: )





 Retires from teaching at University of Minnesota.


 Closes studio showroom.


Subject of documentary, Warren MacKenzie: A Potter’s Hands.
Still throws pots almost daily.


Returns to Cornwall for residency with The Leach Pottery in St. Ives.


Receives Honorary Doctorate from U of M.

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Logo for the Minnesota State Arts Board
Logo linking to grant resource from the Clean Water & Land Legacy Amendment

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

Warren MacKenzie: A Potter's Hands
Mark Lambert, director/producer
Ramsey, Minnesota