Philadelphia native Moni McKee Nowell has been an artist for decades, creating unique and original pieces out of clay and ceramics. She is known for her Angels by Moni collection that she has done for years. She was born and raised in Philadelphia, but after marrying moved to Ridgeland where her studio is located.
Philadelphia native Moni McKee Nowell has been an artist for decades, creating unique and original pieces out of clay and ceramics. She is known for her Angels by Moni collection that she has done for years. She was born and raised in Philadelphia, but after marrying moved to Ridgeland where her studio is located.
Moni McKee Nowell realized working with clay and ceramics was her calling while attending college in the 1970s and that’s what she has been doing ever since.           

All of her work is molded and painted by hand. She calls her studio, “Angels by Moni.”             

“Every piece is unique and original,” Nowell said. “I am known for my angels. I have been doing them all these years.”

Nowell also does many other pieces for all the seasons. Right now, she does a lot of nativity scenes and Santa Clauses for the upcoming Christmas season.

Nowell is a regular at the Saturday Flea Market at the Neshoba County Fair each year. She goes to other places like the Mistletoe Market, the Double Decker Arts Festival in Oxford and the Chimneyville Crafts Festival. 

She sells a big part of her work in different shops. Nowell is related to the folks at M&S Furniture and her work will be on sale there in early December.

Born and raised in Philadelphia, she has lived in Ridgeland since marrying and moving there. She attended the Philadelphia schools and graduated from Leake Academy. After high school, she went to East Central Community College and where she was first introduced to working with clay and ceramics.

“I was not into art but my friend, Loraine was,” Nowell said. “She was taking design classes and she wanted me to take a pottery class with her.”

Nowell found she liked working with clay. After finishing at East Central, she went to Mississippi State for a semester and then transferred to the Mississippi University For Women.

“That’s where I got my start with clay and ceramics,” Nowell said. “I really got into it, I was obsessed with it. My parents wanted me to teach and I wanted to do clay. After I finished at the W, I came home and worked in Philadelphia.

“I started accumulating things for a studio and building my own kiln,” Nowell said. “I knew several people who were interested in pottery who were taking classes at Jackson State. So I did that for a year or two.”

She was able to move a small house behind her parents home and that became her studio.

“There was a small house that my church was getting rid of,” Nowell said. “I purchased it and we moved it. We did some improvements and set up my studio. I lived with my parents and this became my primary job.”

When she married and moved to Ridgeland, she came home often to use the kiln. Her father helped her, tending to the kiln until she returned. She did that until she got a studio in Ridgeland. She has since purchased a home and does her studio work.

Nowell loves what she does and spends hours each day and night, creating new pieces and building up hjer inventory for the next show. When she has time, she likes to and tries to go sometimes twice a day.



“It’s nice I still enjoy walking,” Nowell said. “I don’t like all aspects of it, like paper work. I used to make my own clay but now I order it. I recycle a lot of it and I have barrels of clay. I have to keep it wetted down.

“I will put it on my pottery wheel. I still some pottery things like dishes. I do ceramic sculptures.”

She usually spends several days at the Neshoba County Fair after the Flea Market. She has been stays at Cabin 280, the Howell cabin.

“They got a new cabin this year and that was exciting,” Nowell said. “They have something special every year. This year, they had an Alien party and the place was packed.”

Nowell pretty much runs a one-woman studio with few modern tools. Two of her friends help her sometimes at festivals and flea markets.

Nowell has two grown children and five grandchildren. Her son, Jon Nowell, lives in Norway with his wife and child. Her daughter, Nicole, lives in Ridgeland with her husband and their four children.