Artist Media Series
This is a complex small bear-lidded bowl by Russell Sanchez. The bowl is round and has five rows of checkerboard bands. The bands are each incised into squares. They alternate between matte and micaceous. Each of the matte squares has an inset piece of coral. Russell says that the coral represents the Winter Clan at San Ildefonso. There is an additional row of coral stones inset at the top of the shoulder. There are 89 pieces of coral inset into the bowl along with six rows of hematite hei-shi beads. All the stones are added after the firing. The lid is striking with a fully polished bear lid on a micaceous matte base. The lid has 14 pieces of coral along with two VERY tiny pieces of turquoise for the eyes of the bear. Of course, the lid is a perfect fit for the piece. So, why hematite? Russell has begun to use it in his recent pieces for several reasons. There is a traditional aspect in that women wear hematite bracelets when they do certain traditional dances at the Pueblo. There is also hematite content in the clay slips used on the pottery. Russell also notes that when he is able to fire his pieces to a gunmetal appearance, the hematite captures the shine and also gives them a contemporary appearance. The bowl and lid are both signed, “Russell”.
As Russell has said:
“I’m a traditionalist all the way through. Innovation is part of our tradition. You use the same materials and tools that you have, and the same design elements, and the Clay Mother will come through you for what she wants you to do,” he explains. “Instead of doing the same cloud pattern or serpent pattern, you take that and make it your own. So, in fact, everything I’m doing is old, but new.” Russell Sanchez, Southwest Art Magazine