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Michael Puryear describes himself as a furniture maker, but his work shows that he is far more than that. As the recent acquisition of his Dan Chair (2010) by the Smithsonian Institution 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.

Kehinde Wiley creates contemporary portraits in the style of art-historical masters, repopulating them with people of color. Six new works on stained glass, made in collaboration with Czech artisans, were on view at the Petit Palais in Paris last fall – a first for a living African American male artist.