American Craft

To Sit in Knowledge

ICHAEL PURYEAR DESCRIBES himself as a furniture maker, but his work shows that he is far more than that. As his (2010) attests, Puryear is also a kind of historian, one who uses the tools of material culture to plumb our nation’s history and provide truth and insight into the story of how African Americans came to be here. The artist, brother of sculptor Martin Puryear, characterizes himself as an artisan and uses functional design to subtly tell stories of the complex and fraught relationships that African Americans have with the country where they live. With his attentive selection of historically resonant materials, allusions to particular cultural styles, and his considered, detailed craftsmanship, Puryear creates objects that suggest political and social analysis can be produced with block plane, dovetail saw, mortise chisel, and joiner’s mallet, and that an

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