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Renowned Minnesota pottery icon Warren MacKenzie dies at 94

He passed away in his Stillwater home on New Year's Eve.

The Minnesota arts scene has lost a towering figure in Warren MacKenzie, a legendary potter who died on Dec. 31.

Having been described as "the most important contemporary American potter," MacKenzie and his work are known throughout the world, and his pieces have graced "the shelves of some of the world's finest museums," according to his website. 

His pottery was known for its utilitarian style, with MacKenzie telling a Smithsonian interviewer in 2002 that he found it "really enriching to make pots which people are using and which they come in contact with, not only visually in their homes but tactilely."

His career spanned seven decades, and he's been the subject of books and documentaries. Here's a trailer for one, which shows him at work and gives insight into his life and personality:

Though born and raised in Illinois, MacKenzie eventually made his home in Stillwater, Minnesota – where he also maintained a studio – and became a ceramics professor at the University of Minnesota, the Star Tribune notes. 

The paper says it's because of MacKenzie that Stillwater and the St. Croix Valley have become known as "haven for potters."

The cause of death has not been specified, but an update from MacKenzie's website says he passed away peacefully. 

MPR says his life and work will be honored at a national ceramics conference happening in Minneapolis this March. 

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