Judy Kensley McKie earned a B.F.A. degree in painting in 1966, at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence. A self-taught furniture maker, she approached this work out of necessity in order to furnish her home. She continued to excel in the craft, learning through trial and error, and worked in a furniture-making cooperative until she resolved to create one-of-a-kind pieces.
McKie derives inspiration from ancient Greek and Egyptian art, Pre-Columbian, African, Indian, and Eskimo cultures, and folk art. She was the recipient of a Massachusetts Artists' Foundation fellowship in 1980, a Certificate of Design Excellence award in 1986, and a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation award in 1989.
Kenneth R. Trapp and Howard Risatti Skilled Work: American Craft in the Renwick Gallery (Washington, D.C.: National Museum of American Art with the Smithsonian Institution Press, 1998)