Leza Marie McVey

American pioneer potter

Leza Marie McVey, Vessel, ca. 1949Leza Marie McVey (1907–84) was an American studio potter, also known by her maiden name of Sullivan. McVey studied at the Cleveland Institute of Art from 1927–1932 and at the Colorado Springs Fine Art Center from 1943–-1944. In 1932 she married the sculptor William Mozart McVey, a successful artist in his own right. Between 1935 and 1947 the McVeys lived and worked in various locations in Texas. In 1947, William accepted a teaching position at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan, where McVey met Maija Grotell and became friends with Toshiko Takaezu. In 1953 the McVeys moved to Cleveland, where Leza established a studio.

Ahead of her time, McVey hand-built large-scale, biomorphic forms. Many were characteristically bottle-shaped with a ‘stopper’ in the opening. Her work was to help pave the way for modern ceramic art in the USA. Her sculptural stoneware and porcelain vessels display the influence of surrealism and her respect for natural organic forms, in contrast to the machine aesthetic, e.g. of Futurism. Due to failing eyesight, McVey’s output was strongly reduced in the 1960s.

A long overdue study of Leza McVey’s work, The Ceramic Forms of Leza McVey, was written by Martin Eidelberg in mid 2003.

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