0.75 x 5.5 x 5.5 in.
Museum Permanent Collection
Nan Bangs McKinnell’s Tea Set is a quintessential example of her early work, which was heavily influenced by contemporary industrial design. The set is composed of eight highly refined cylindrical teacups with a slightly convex curvature to the wall, leaving ample space for the fingers to nestle comfortably in the negative space between the form and the handle. The Teapot possesses the same general shape as the teacup, but on a larger scale and the round saucers complete the set. The wheel thrown stoneware vessels have a white glaze applied to the interior, as well as to the surface of the saucers, and the exterior is left raw with an intricate diamond-shaped pattern inlaid with white glaze.
McKinnell, born in 1913 in Stanton, Nebraska, gained an appreciation for art at a very young age. Her father was a dentist and her mother was a homemaker, but both supported her artistic endeavors by enrolling her in piano lessons as well as private art lessons. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Music and Education from Wayne State College in Nebraska, but desired change, so she moved to Seattle to resume working as a teacher. She applied for graduate school at the University of Washington, studying painting and design, but after taking a class in ceramic engineering, she quickly changed her major. While in graduate school, she met Jim McKinnell, whom she later married and worked in collaboration with for several decades. Their joint contributions to ceramic education through the Archie Bray Foundation as well as the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts helped shape 20th century American ceramics, resulting in the vibrant community that persists to this day.
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