Martin Puryear’s “Folk Technology”

I have always been drawn to Martin Puryear’s  organically constructed sculptures. And I greatly appreciate his response to nature, his reproduction of the past, and his reverence for the future, there is something about his work that is warm and cozy, but also strong and powerful.  In the book African American Art Sharon Patton states, “Puryear’s sculptures, free standing or wall pieces, are a hybrid of his experiences abroad and at home.  He has acknowledged that, ‘the time in Sierra Leone and in Sweden have become the myths behind his work.’  He has produced monumental minimalist forms, geometric, or organic.”

Puryear spent two years in Sweden from 1966- 1968 and Swedish culture is one component reflected in his complex aesthetic. While working on my Howard University MA thesis I was pleasantly surprised that he was featured in Time Magazine America’s Best in 2001.  Robert Hughes describes his sculptures as being “folk technology” that is inspired by basket weaving, canoe building, and teepee constructing.

Confessional 1998 – 2000 epitomizes the hybrid, organic, “folk technology”, aesthetic that he has mastered.  Puryear incorporates elements from historic Sami teepees and fuses them with a contemporary designed dwelling which is visible through overlapping materials consisting of wire mesh, tar and various woods.

Puryear’s work is an important component for understanding Creole Konst because of his use of “folk technology” which provides the opportunity to examine how he incorporates Swedish culture into his sculptures.

References and Footnotes:

Time Magazine – Martin Puryear

African American Art

Art 21: PBS – Martin Puryear

Art 21: Blog – Martin Puryear

puss och kram (xox)