Kathleen Vance, Tohono O’odham Potter

Kathleen Vance, Tohono O’odham Potter.  Sells, AZ  | 2023

Kathleen Vance, of Tohono O’odham and San Carlos Apache descent, specializes in Tohono O’odham utilitarian pottery creating clay cooking vessels, water ollas, seed jars, effigy pots, and whistles. She first learned to gather and process clay twenty three years ago with her first mentor, Alicia Bustamonte, an elder from the El Bajio community in northern Mexico, historically O’odham homelands. Later Reuben Naranjo, Jr., helped her refine her pottery techniques. “Throughout my journey, I noticed a common thread in traditional homes; the presence of a water pot under the ramada, which serves as a welcoming symbol for visitors. But it is more than just the pottery itself. It represents the essence of families and communities coming together,” she says. Her apprentice is O’odham community member, Melvina Garcia. 

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