Robell Awake

Robell Awake

About The Artist

Robell Awake • Atlanta, GA

My practice centers the histories and aesthetics of Black craftspeople throughout the Black diaspora, and in doing works to combat the erasures and dominant narratives within furniture making and the decorative arts. In my current body of work, I explore the diasporic influences and histories that make up my identity as a Black first-generation Ethiopian America. By combining the ladderback chair form pioneered by enslaved furniture maker Richard Poynor with carving designs inspired by the Jimma chairs of Ethiopia as well as the quilts of Gee�s Bend, my work aims to offer a new furniture aesthetic that is rooted in the legacies and design traditions of Black craftspeople throughout the diaspora.


Artist website

Q&A with the Artist

Tell us how your work is made.

Use preindustrial methods and techniques to make my chairs. I split out and shape all of my parts by hand.

What makes you passionate about the medium you work with?

Wood is such a sensitive yet resilient material. It responds to its environment and moves with the seasons. I love having to work with and accommodate the reality of its never ending movement when making furniture.

What is something unique about you or your practice?

In a field obsessed with high tolerances and exactitude, my practice is rooted in the Black aesthetic traditions of improvisation and asymmetry.