Turquoise Tortoise Art Gallery in Sedona Arizona - One of the finest Sedona Art Galleries featuring contemporary Native American and Southwestern art



Bertha TomUntil recently, little evidence had been unearthed about the production methods of Anasazi pottery. But these mysteries are beginning to unravel and dedicated artists and archaeologists have begun to unlock the secrets of this centuries-old pottery tradition. Bertha Tom, a Navajo of the "Tachini" (mellow people) Clan, is one of these dedicated artists and her intricately produced vessels are featured at Turquoise Tortoise Gallery.

Tom was raised by her grandmother on the vast Navajo Reservation. She spent her childhood watching the great skills of her grandmother as she made pottery and Tom began making pottery herself in the mid-1990s. When her fascination with traditional Anasazi designs took hold the delicate and laborious tasks of pottery making grew exponentially more challenging for this dedicated artist. Every pot is hand coiled in traditional fashion; every one is fired in temperatures up to 2,000 degrees; and every one is completely painted, intricately, by hand.

The haunting beauty of Anasazi black on white pottery is a timeless legacy of the prehistoric Southwest. The vibrant geometric designs are easily recognized and yet decorated pots were not common in prehistoric times; usually, they comprise only about 5-40 percent of the potsherds found at any given site. They were considered very fine wares, were highly valued and were reserved for special uses. Today, the new pottery being made that follows these ancient traditions is more treasured than ever; the pots made by Bertha Tom generally range in size from medium (approx. 11”h x 12”w) to ones that are quite large (approx. 16”h x 15”w). The intricacy of the traditional designs she follows can mean weeks spent painting a single vessel.

Fine Anasazi pots could be white (including a greyish or tan-ish color) with black geometric decorations or, less commonly, red with black geometric decorations. Tom's work follows the white on black tradition. Most ancient Anasazi pots were made with round rather than flat bottoms but Tom gives the bottom of her rounded pots a small flat area to make display easier. The Anasazi most likely followed the puebloan belief that the spirit of Mother Earth resides in the clay and influences the design of each vessel; because of this belief, their pottery was most likely made almost exclusively by women. Bertha Tom is one singular modern-day woman keeping the traditions of Anasazi pottery alive.


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"Sacred Steps"
Native American Ceramic Pottery
8"h x 9"
x 9"

"Night & Day"
Native American Ceramic Pottery
15" x 15" x 15"



Native American Ceramic Pottery
12"h x 12"
x 13"

Member of the Sedona Gallery Association [Sedona, Arizona]

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All artwork is the sole property of each respective artist. Any reproduction or other use of the art gallery images contained in this Contemporary and Traditional Native American art website without written permission of the respective artists is expressly prohibited. Native American Artwork prices may vary according to art market value. Turquoise Tortoise Gallery is one of the finest Sedona art galleries featuring contemporary Native American art, turquoise jewelry, and Southwestern art.