Steve Nash (Ph.D. Arizona, 1997), interim vice-president of research and collections and curator of archaeology at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science (DMNS), recently launched a blog called “Curiosities” at Sapiens.org, an on-line magazine of all things human. Each post examines the social, culutral, political, economic, or scientific aspects of an individual object, with an eye towards inspiring readers to think about the world just a bit differently than they have before. The editor-in-chief of Sapiens is Chip Colwell (B.A., Arizona, 1996), the curator of anthropology at DMNS.
Dr. Nash also just published Stories in Stone: The Enchanted Gem Carvings of Vasily Konovalenko (University Press of Colorado, 2016). Part art catalogue and part life history, Stories in Stone tells the tale of Konovalenko’s impressive works, explaining their conception, creation, and symbolism. Each handcrafted figure depicts a scene from life in the Soviet Union—a bowman hunting snow geese, a woman reposing in a hot spring surrounded by ice, peasants spinning wool, a pair of gulag prisoners sawing lumber—painstakingly rendered in precious stones and metals. Nash draws upon oral history and archival research to detail the life of their creator, revealing a rags-to-riches and life-imitates-art narrative full of Cold War intrigue, Communist persecution, and capitalist exploitation.
Augmented by Richard M. Wicker’s exquisite and revelatory photographs of sixty-five Konovalenko sculptures from museums, state agencies, and private collections around the world, Stories in Stone is a visually stunning glimpse into a unique corner of Russian art and cultural history, the craft and science of gem carving, and the life of a Russian artist who loved people everywhere.