Sanchez, Russell – Gunmetal Box with Bears and Bear Lid
This is a very creative box by Russell Sanchez. His recent work is a modern take on historic San Ildefonso pottery. This box is round in shape and fully designed. There are bears on each side and they are separated by could and lightning designs. Each bear is inset with a single piece of Kingman Turquoise. The clouds have inset hematite beads. There are four bands of hematite hei-shi beads. The lid is fully polished and has a bear with turquoise eyes. The edge of the lid has etched mountains. There are inset hematite beads. So, why hematite? Russell has begun to use it on 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 use 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 entire piece is fully polished and fired a gunmetal coloration. The jar and the lid are both signed on the bottom in the clay. In terms of the round shape, it is a style of box seen at San Ildefonso in the 1920s. I included a photo of Maria Martinez’s round box from around 1924-5. This jar is a wonderful revival of a historic shape! Congrats to Russell for winning “Best of Pottery” at both the 2019 Santa Fe Indian Market and the 2020 Heard Indian Market!