Lynden Sculpture Garden Highlights 'Mingei-sota' Style of Pottery

Feb 26, 2014

These pots, by Minnesota artist Warren McKenzie, reflect the Japanese "Mingei" style of pottery, from the early 20th century. They're part of an exhibit at the Lynden Sculpture Garden.
Credit Gianofer Fields

In today's globalized world, it's easy to spot the culture of another nation infused into that of our own. But it's also true that past cultural changes in one country can shape current trends in ours.

Take for example, some the pottery being made here in the Midwest.

Pottery by Minnesota artist Warren McKenzie, in the 'Mingei' style
Credit Gianofer Fields

Artists like the well-known Minnesota potter Warren McKenzie have taken their cue from early 20th century Japanese artists, who created what's known as Mingei pottery. They believed that creating functional, yet beautiful objects could transform the people who would use them in their everyday lives.

Based on their work, McKenzie has pioneered a new style some call "Mingei-sota," and his work along with other Midwestern Mingei artists are being featured in a new exhibit at The Lynden Sculpture Garden here in Milwaukee.

Lake Effect material culture contributor Gianofer Fields recently talked with Lynden's executive director Polly Morris about the artistic culture exchange that created this style.

Gianofer Fields studies material culture at UW-Madison and is the curator of "It's a Material World" - that project is funded by the Chipstone Foundation, a decorative arts foundation whose mission is preserving and interpreting their collection, as well as stimulating research and education in the decorative arts.