“People need art in their life,” says Lena LeVeque of Great Falls Pottery.
For her, art is her life. The daughter of a master potter, LeVeque grew up on the potter’s wheel. She studied ceramics at La Meridana in Florence. She returned home to work alongside her father and bring up her daughter in the trade. Hers is a family of potters—three generations skilled in the functional arts.
“I’ve been around pottery my whole life,” LeVeque explains, though she did not plan to become a professional. “One day, I didn’t want to go back to the law firm where I was working. I said, ‘Dad, should I do [pottery] with you?’ and he said, ‘Yeah, let’s do this.’”
Through her Italian schooling and under her father’s tutelage, LeVeque developed her incredible mixed media style, an organic blending of ceramics and Americana. Some of her most popular pieces feature the imprint of a vintage Montana license plate.
Additionally, buyers of LeVeque’s work admire her use of colors and the functionality of her art.
“It’s a little more practical when you can use it,” explains the artist. “All of my pottery is microwave and dishwasher safe. It never fades. I use a piece my dad made me forty years ago, and it looks like it came right out of the kiln.”
LeVeque appreciates having her father as a mentor, and she strives to provide that support to other up-and-coming potters. Mondays through Thursdays, she teaches class to (approximately) forty students, ranging in age from 13 to over 70.
“Students pay for ten weeks,” says LeVeque, explaining that every class gets reenrolled in the next one unless they opt out. “If they want to keep going for twenty years, they can. Classes are hard to get into because once a student is in, they generally don’t get out.”
As LeVeque’s students hone their skills, her daughter, Rose, is using hers as a professional potter in Arizona. Rose’s new coffee shop and studio, The Potters’ Peak, will feature her mother’s work alongside her own.
LeVeque’s pottery can also be found in galleries throughout Montana, online, and at Great Falls Pottery in the heart of her hometown.
Great Falls Pottery is located at 2600 1st Avenue North. For more information, visit the-lev.com or call (406) 217-1374. Follow Lena LeVeque on Facebook and Instagram.