Sanchez, Russell – Polychrome Corn Meal Box
Russell Sanchez continues to be one of the true innovators in Pueblo pottery. Each piece is perfectly coil built, stone polished and etched. This box is one of his first incorporating a polished white clay slip! The white is the same white clay used on historic San Ildefonso polychrome pottery when it was stone polished. This piece has a culturally inspired shape and design. The shape is from the traditional “corn meal” boxes, which were used to hold corn meal during Pueblo events. The raised or step area is a mountain. This box has two old style snakes surrounding it on three sides. They are slipped with red an black clay. On the back side is a Sun Katsina design. Again, etched into the clay and slipped with red and black clay slips along with the white clay. Below the central design is a row of checkerboard polished black and matte. The bottom band of design is separated by two inset bands of hematite hei-shi beads. Not as if this box doesn’t have a lot going on, but check out the inside, which is highly polished black! There is a band of turquoise beads separating the black from the red. Simply spectacular! 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. The last two photos are the box next to a San Ildefonso polychrome cornmeal box from the early 1900’s, for a comparison of this historic shape and polychrome coloration. It is exciting to see how this imagery is not new but Russell’s reinterpretation of it both modernizes and revives.
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