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. The materials used to make the figurines are worth millions of dollars, but as cultural artifacts, the sculptures are priceless. Author Stephen 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.
Co-published with the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, home to the most significant collection of Russian gem-carving sculptures by Vasily Konovalenko in the world.