Sanchez, Russell – Polychrome Box with Bear Lid
Russell Sanchez continues to be one of the true innovators in Pueblo pottery. Each piece is perfectly coil built, stone polished and etched. This is a round box with a bear lid. The round shape is one that is seen at San Ildefonso Pueblo as early as the 1920’s (the last photo is a round box by Maria Martinez from the 1920’s). This box is polished red on the top and bottom band and the center is polished with the polished white clay. The top band is painted black-on-red with a hatchwork pattern. The central band is etched with a storm pattern and then slipped with red and black clay slips. The bottom band is polished black and red with matte tan areas to create the checkerboard pattern. There are three bands of hei-shi beads, two made from jet (black) and one from turquoise. The lid is a sculptural bear which is polished a deep red and the base if etched with a polychrome corn design. There are two bands of inset turquoise hei-shi beads. As Russell continues to innovate from historic designs, he says, “Tradition means moving forward and adding to it. You keep moving forward. If we stayed stagnant we would no longer exist.” The box is signed on the bottom in the clay. It is exciting to see how this imagery is not new but Russell’s reinterpretation of it both modernizes and revives.