Aso Oke 2019
84 × 102 × 74½ inches; 213 × 259 × 189 cm

The shape of Aso Oke is based on a hat, with its peak draped to the side, that is part of traditional men’s dress in many parts of West Africa. The sculpture’s title stems from aso oke textiles, handwoven by the Yoruba people, often in bright colors. Their captivating patterns are reflected in the work’s lattice-like construction. In keeping with Puryear’s meticulous process of creating and refining forms over a period of time, he originally constructed the sculpture from rattan and twine and then cast it in bronze.

Over the past decade Puryear has created several sculptures inspired by traditional headwear, including Big Phrygian (2010–14), which takes its form and color from the Phrygian cap, a soft hat with a bent-over peak and a long history as a symbol of liberty and democracy, and Tabernacle, based on a cap worn by soldiers in the Civil War.

<p><em>Aso Oke</em> in progress at the<br />artist's studio, 2018</p>

Aso Oke in progress at the
artist's studio, 2018

<p><em>Big Phrygian</em> 2010–14<br />Glenstone Museum, Potomac, Maryland</p>

Big Phrygian 2010–14
Glenstone Museum, Potomac, Maryland