Judy Kensley McKie

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Judy Kensley McKie
Born1944 (age 78–79)
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Other namesJudy McKie
Alma materRhode Island School of Design
Occupation(s)furniture designer, furniture maker
Known forfurniture craft
Movementstudio furniture

Judy Kensley McKie (born 1944) is an American artist, furniture designer, and furniture maker. She has been making her signature style of furniture with carved and embellished animal and plant motifs since 1977.[1][2] She is based in Boston, Massachusetts.

Early life and education[edit]

Judy Kensley McKie bench at Eastport Park, Boston

Judy Kensley McKie was born in 1944 in Boston, Massachusetts.[3] As a young person, McKie worked with her graphic designer father in his woodshop, helping to manufacturing pieces. She cites this work as early inspiration to make furniture.

She received her BFA degree in painting from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1966.[4][5] As a painter, she was drawn to figurative art from ancient cultures, an influence that shows up later in her furniture. Her entrance to furniture making came from the necessity to furnish her own home and to create pieces of furniture for her friends.[5]


In the late 60s, she joined a cooperative workspace called "New Hamburger Cabinet Works". While working in this space, McKie honed her craft skills through trial-and-error and by working around other furniture makers such as Michael Hurwitz [Wikidata].[1][6] After several years of working on cabinetry and other projects built collaboratively with the other members of the cooperative, McKie ventured into her own style which included curves, personal ideals, and inspiration from plants and animals.[7][8]

McKie began to carve low-relief patterns of animals and nature into her furniture work in 1975. This started on flat surfaces such as boxes and evolved to the structural elements of the work such as a table in which two dogs with long tails and bones in their mouths sit underneath a glass table top and a rocking chair with a pair of rattle snakes as the rockers. This unique style of work earned Mckie sales and commissions as well as significant recognition in the field of studio furniture.[5]

McKie's work was included alongside her contemporaries Wendell Castle and Joyce Anderson in the 1979 exhibition "New Handmade Furniture: American Furniture Makers Working in Hardwood" held at the American Craft Museum in New York City.[9] in 2004, McKie held a solo exhibition at Pritam & Eames gallery.[10] In the Spring of 2018, McKie had a solo exhibition at the Museum of Craft and Design in San Francisco "Judy Kensley McKie: Cast of Characters", curated by Glenn Adamson and Ariel Zaccheo.[11]

Her work is included in the collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM).[3] Her piece, Leopard Chest, was acquired by SAAM as part of the Renwick Gallery's 50th Anniversary Campaign.[12]

Awards and honors[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Judy Kensley McKie - Furniture Designer". Fine Furniture Maker. 2013-06-03. Retrieved 2019-09-04.
  2. ^ Smith, Joy Cattanach (January 1984). "Judy Kensley McKie". American Craft.
  3. ^ a b "Judy Kensley McKie". Smithsonian American Art Museum. Retrieved 2021-08-24.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. ^ "Furniture as art | WAG MAGAZINE". Retrieved 2019-09-04.
  5. ^ a b c Koplos, Janet. (2010). Makers : a history of American studio craft. Metcalf, Bruce, 1949-, Center for Craft, Creativity & Design. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 9780807895832. OCLC 658203695.
  6. ^ Cummins, Jim (February 1984). "Whether furniture or art, it's hard and dusty work" (PDF). Fine Woodworking: 76–80.
  7. ^ Choosing craft : the artist's viewpoint. Halper, Vicki., Douglas, Diane, 1951-. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. 2009. pp. 120–122. ISBN 9780807889923. OCLC 646811437.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  8. ^ Women designers in the USA, 1900-2000 : diversity and difference : Jacqueline M. Atkins [and others]. Kirkham, Pat., Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. 2000. pp. 299–300. ISBN 0300087349. OCLC 45486311.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  9. ^ "Wendell Castle and Judy Kensley McKie: Woodworking of the American East Coast". Phillips. Retrieved 2019-09-04.
  10. ^ "The Furniture Art of Judy Kensley McKie". Pritam & Eames Exhibition Catalog. 2004.
  11. ^ MCD (2018-04-02). "Judy Kensley McKie: Cast of Characters". Retrieved 2019-09-04.
  12. ^ Savig, Mary; Atkinson, Nora; Montiel, Anya (2022). This Present Moment: Crafting a Better World. Washington, DC: Smithsonian American Art Museum. pp. 228–238. ISBN 9781913875268.
  13. ^ "Judy Kensley McKie". American Craft Council. Retrieved 2019-09-04.
  14. ^ "Judy Kensley McKie". The Furniture Society. Retrieved 2019-09-04.