Russell Sanchez of San Ildefonso Pueblo began working in the early 1980’s. Each piece by Russell reflects not only his Pueblo ancestry, but his own perspective of the Pueblo culture and the world around him.
Born in 1963, Russell grew up around the clay and learned the skills of pottery making from his great-aunt, noted potter Rose Gonzales. He also found encouragement in Dora Tse-Pe, another leading potter from San Ildefonso. Russell is an avid “outdoorsman”, who loves to ski, hike and raft. It is often during his rafting and hiking expeditions, that he will stop to gather clay to use later for his pottery.
Russell makes all of his bowls in the traditional manner of gathering the clay, building the bowls in a coil method and then firing them outside. Each piece by Russell has a distinctive flare to it. Either by the color, shape or design, each piece varies in its unique nature. Unusual slips are one of his key features, including the use of green tan and blue colorations. The use of lids in the shapes of bear and shells are part of his view of nature and are used to complement the various forms.
Russell's work has been featured in many books and magazines. As well, his work may be found in the permanent collection of museums such as the Heard Museum, the Millicent Rogers Museum and the Smithsonian. Russell has also won major awards at Santa Fe Indian Market, Eight Northern Pueblo and other major competitive events. At Santa Fe Indian Market, Russell has won awards almost every year from 1978 to 1997! Russell’s innovative style, beautiful forms and high polish all work in unison to make him one of today’s leading pueblo potters.