Steve Nash's Lab Page

About Dr. Steve

I grew up on the south side of Chicago, in the Hyde Park neighborhood, near the University of Chicago. When I was very young, my father worked as an editor at the Field Museum of Natural History, where he worked with many different types of scientists. One of my earliest memories was going behind-the-scenes at the Museum to see row after row after row of beautiful, iridescent insects pinned in trays.

My mother worked at the University of Chicago, where she was friends with many, many different anthropologists and archaeologists. Although I did not know it at the time, anthropology would prove a life-long interest. When I took my first anthropology course as a senior at Kenwood Academy, I knew I was hooked.

I got my first museum job in high school, working as a tour guide at the Museum of Science and Industry Although I did not know it at the time museums would also become a life-long interest.

I went to Grinnell College in Iowa, where I had the privilege of going on my first archaeological dig, at Lizardman Village near Flagstaff, Arizona, which was named after a distinctive figure on a rock art panel nearby. After college, I worked on archaeological projects in Illinois and Israel, then enrolled in graduate school at the University of Arizona, and have since worked all over the American West and in southwestern France.

Looking back, what have I learned? You can always make more money, but you can't make more time. Therefore, when it comes to your career choice, follow your heart, your gut, your passion, and your intellect; don't (necessarily) follow your wallet. Encourage your children to do the same. I know plenty of people who are rich in money but poor in spirit. What's the point in that?

Crossroads of Culture

The Front Range of Colorado has served as a crossroads of culture for millennia. More than 12,000 years ago Paleoindian big-game hunters crossed the region on foot. Today, modern air travel connects Coloradans to the furthest corners of the planet in a day's time.

The anthropology collections at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science record the cultural diversity and history of this remarkable region, but until 2010 there were no publications available that present a comprehensive overview of the collections. My colleagues and I sought to rectify this problem, and our book Crossroads of Culture is the result.

Crossroads of Culture includes a brief history of the Department of Anthropology, summary descriptions the major sub-collections (i.e. American Ethnology, American Archaeology, World Ethnology, and World Archaeology), personal reflections by former curators Jane Stevenson Day and Joyce Herold, and volunteer Ruth Montoya-Starr. The highlights of the book are the more than 100 historic, archival, and high-definition, color photographs of objects from the collections by Scott Dressel-Martin and Rick Wicker.

Thanks to the generosity of two donors and the cooperation of our publisher, the University Press of Colorado, the beautiful, full-color, coffee-table style Crossroads of Culture can be purchased for only $11.95. This means that virtually everyone can enjoy the wonderful collections we curate in trust for the people of the state of Colorado!

Konovalenkos

Vasily Konovalenko (1929 - 1989) was a Ukrainian-born sculptor and artist whose remarkable gem carvings may be found on public display only at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science and the Gem Museum in Moscow.

As a young man in the early 1950s, Konovalenko helped build sets for Swan Lake, Aida, La Traviata, Romeo and Juliet, and other classic ballets.  In 1957, while working at the Mariinka Theatre in St. Petersburg, Konovalenko worked on the ballet Stone Flower. The Stone Flower's leading man is Danilo, an accomplished stonecutter. Although betrothed to the beautiful Katarina, Danilo becomes smitten by the mythical Mistress of Copper Mountain. For the ballet, Konovalenko had to make a stunning malachite jewelry box and was immediately heralded as a master gem carver. From that point on, Konovalenko was as smitten with gem carving as Danilo had been with the Mistress of Copper Mountain. 

It is difficult to understand how one might "see" inside a block of stone and predict how the internal structure of minerals and crystals might be used to create dynamic, three-dimensional statues that contain and communicate compelling messages.  Konovalenko's talent is such that he has been compared to Fabergé, another great Russian artist, without a hint of irony or sarcasm.

Depending on one's perspective, Konovalenko's sculptures are either crude folk art or unparalleled fine art.  The anatomical proportions, particularly the large hands, are either evidence of the myriad challenges of delicate work in crystalline materials, or stand in mute but accurate testimony to the harsh realities of peasant life. No matter how one might interpret these remarkable sculptures, they are worthy of detailed study, so please come to the Denver Museum of Nature & Science to enjoy a truly world-class treasure!

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