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Several years ago, Shokan, NY-based furniture maker Michael Puryear was working on his table saw when the splitter got thrown by the blade and cut 40% through his trachea. He immediately understood the seriousness of the accident when he took his hand away from the wound and realized he was breathing through his neck. His second thought was that he could die. Fortunately, the overhead door to his shop was open and his partner saw him staggering and immediately came to assist. He was airlifted to Albany Medical Center for emergency surgery and a tracheotomy and after a week in intensive care, he was released. Since then, he has two additional surgeries.

Despite the seriousness of the accident, his recovery was fairly quick. With a CERF+ grant and brokered booth waivers at two critical shows, Michael’s creative career hardly skipped a beat. “I’d been aware of CERF+ almost from the beginning, notes Michael “I just think it’s a very smart organization. This interest in craft and how one survives.” He particularly values CERF+’s proactive preparedness agenda. “I think they make a tremendous contribution as an organization now with their proactive campaign. You can mitigate accidents by thinking about them beforehand.” See video of Michael Puryear here.

Michael Puryear online


“In 2014 I was honored by the Renwick Alliance as an Artist of Distinction and this year the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture acquired my Dan Chair featured on the CERF+ website. I have attached the artist’s statement for it.

(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 acknowledge and honor 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 people is the Dan. The chair symbolizes the nobility of American slaves and the ukibori, a technique of producing raised patterns in wood, on the legs represents the scars of bondage.)”