Created by
Puryear, Michael, American
enamel paint and graphite on poplar and pecan wood
H x W x D: 27 1/2 × 31 × 17 in. (69.9 × 78.7 × 43.2 cm)
Artist Statement:
“The opportunity to work with woods supplied by Historical Woods of America, specifically poplar from Monticello and pecan from Mt. Vernon, provided me with the opportunity to honor and acknowledge the contributions of African American slaves to this country. Like my own ancestry this heritage began before the founding of the United States. African Americans have fought with honor and loyalty in every war of our nation. They have significantly contributed economically, socially, culturally and politically to American culture.
The Dan Chair is an expression of my pride in being a descendant of slaves. It is an interpretation of a style of chair found among peoples of what was historically known as the Slave Coast of West Africa. One of those peoples is the Dan.
The chair symbolizes the nobility of American slaves and the ukibori, a [Japanese] technique of producing raised patterns in wood, on the legs represents the scars of bondage.”
Low chair by Michael Puryear inspired by a West African design. The chair has a burnished graphite finish over the crafted wood to produce a silver metallic sheen. Small circular bars form the upper half of the chair. The top bar is curved with angled ends. Joins connect this piece to matching bars which meet at the seat base. The base is flat and rectangular and set between thicker framing pieces with rounded edges. There are joins for the four (4) chair legs in these connectors. The legs flare out from the top and have a rim around the base. The front two (2) legs have raised markings in the wood intentionally imitating lash marks.
Place depicted
West Africa, Africa
Decorative Arts, Craft, and Design
seats and seat components
African diaspora
Furniture design
United States History
Credit Line
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
Object number
Restrictions & Rights
© Michael Puryear
Permission required for use. Proper usage is the responsibility of the user.

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