Complementing Fine Food
Before she graduated from UT in 2009, Leanne Moe-McQueen was already planning her pottery business. While still an undergraduate student, she designed her first kiln with Frank Martin, associate professor of ceramics, and opened a small studio at 212 East Harper Street in Maryville, Tennessee. Within a few years of earning her BFA, McQueen had moved Studio 212 into a much larger building, expanded her business to offer community art classes, and established her brand, McQueen Pottery.
Her tableware, which has been featured in The New York Times and on the cover of The Art of Entertaining Relais & Châteaux, is now touring the globe with Chef Joanne Weir on her PBS show Plates and Places. Launched in February, each episode follows Weir, a James Beard award-winning chef, as she travels the world to research the key ingredients of extraordinary dishes and culminates with Weir preparing and presenting the dishes on McQueen Pottery.
McQueen’s handcrafted dinnerware is no stranger to fine food. Her pottery is on the tables at In Situ, a Michelin-star restaurant inside the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Sean Brock’s Husk, with locations in Nashville, Savannah, Georgia, and South Carolina, features her pottery. McQueen’s dinnerware is also featured locally at Blackberry Farms in Walland and J.C. Holdway in Knoxville.
Garden & Gun, which named McQueen a runner-up for the 2016 “Made in the South” award in craft, describes her Speckled Ware as “Tiny brown flecks of clay peek through the dishes’ soft gray glaze, and naturally undulating edges complement instead of compete with the food they hold.”
McQueen values how the UT ceramics program encouraged her to experiment with materials.
“Clay is something that takes time, practice, and patience, a lot of patience,” McQueen says. “Some of my fondest memories are of my failures and how they pushed me to figure out the problem and work it through. That exploration of materials, whether successful or not, promoted growth in my work.”
“Leanne’s success is no surprise,” says Sally Brogden, professor of ceramics. “While at UT, Leanne was a very determined, hard-working student. Going out on one’s own to start a pottery business is a huge undertaking and it involves a lot of risk. It’s been wonderful to watch her success continue to grow and it will be really exciting to see how her studio business evolves.”