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Sanchez, Russell – Large Gunmetal Bear with Hemetite, Heartline & Avanyu

Sanchez, Russell – Large Gunmetal Bear with Hemetite, Heartline & Avanyu

8.5" long x 5"h x 4"w
$ 9,000.00
Availability: Out of stock

This is one of the largest bears we have had from Russell Sanchez.  He continues to use traditional techniques and materials to create his stunning works in clay.  This bear is highly polished and fired to a striking gunmetal coloration.  The bear has a wide body and a sculptural form.  From the mouth of the bear is a heartline, which is a traditional image used to symbolize the heart as the center of power in the animal.  In addition, the bear is a symbol of strength.  On this piece, the heartline extends backward and rises up on the back and turns into an old style avanyu (water serpent).  The style of the avanyu and the fine-line etching are inspired by the painted designs of Tonita Roybal in the 1920s.  The back half of the bear continues the heartline and has two additional avanyu.  Across the back of the bear are eight bands of square hematite hei-shi 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.  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

This bear is a stunning example of how the history and culture of San Ildefonso Pueblo is modernized in concept in his hands.  The bear is signed on the bottom in the clay.  Simply stunning!


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