The term “family of artists” has never been so appropriate then when used to describe the upbringing of Jemez potter Kathleen Wall. Kathleen’s mother Fannie Loretto is famous for her storyteller figures while her father Steven Wall is a sculptor and a jeweler. Kathleen also has two brothers: Adrian, also a sculptor and jeweler, and Marcus, who works in pottery.
“I’m a typical pueblo potter,” says Kathleen. “I learned from my mother and the matriarchs in my family. My mother was part of a sister group who all made storytellers in the 70s and 80s. I learned from her—watching her, picking up the clay while she was working, all of that.”
In her late teens, Wall began producing and selling storytellers as well. Storyteller figurines traditionally feature a narrator, mouth open mid-story, and an attentive audience of younger generation listeners. One time, the individual pieces fired and dried before Wall had time to add the babies. She took the solitary figures to a curio shop in Albuquerque and they loved them. She has been doing these figures ever since, with their signature colors coming from the clay surrounding the Jemez pueblo.
“The beauty about being from Jemez is there isn’t one artist who sets the style or tone here,” says Wall. “Jemez encourages you to develop your own voice, find your own original art form. There’s an openness here that really allows one to create with individuality and take pride in one’s own craft.”
Joshua Rose is currently a Senior Vice President at the Santa Fe Art Auction, responsible for Native Art and Fine Art. Previously, he spent the last 15 years as the editor of American Art Collector, Western Art Collector, Native American Art Magazine and American Fine Art Magazine. He currently resides in Santa Fe and Phoenix, Arizona.