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Vonnoh, Bessie Onahotema Potterlocked

(17 August 1872–08 March 1955)
  • Julie A. Aronson


Vonnoh, Bessie Onahotema Potter (17 August 1872–08 March 1955), sculptor, was born in St. Louis, Missouri, the daughter of Alexander C. Potter, a vendor of agricultural machinery, and Mary Elizabeth McKenney. In 1874 her father died in a railroad accident and she and her mother joined the McKenney family in Chicago. Shortly thereafter, Vonnoh contracted a mysterious illness; although slow recovery began in 1882, spinal damage halted her growth at four feet eight inches tall and apparently left her unable to bear children. Her profound love of the physical activity of modeling clay may have partially resulted from having survived ten years of incapacitation....

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