Included amongst Puryear's public works is his large-scale composition Ark which was designed for York College and can be viewed presently on the school's campus in Queens, New York. Yet Puryear was impelled to boil his sculptures down to their essentials.
He returned to the United States in to study sculpture at Yale University. His pieces may appear at once to be organic and geometric, natural and machine-like, massive yet transparent, random yet structured, crude yet elegant.
There he taught science and languages in Sierra Leone, and studied with local potters, weavers and woodcarvers. So to be able to live in West Africa and experience a tribal culture firsthand was priceless.
The viewer is reflected in it, a combatant in a political present. The result was an art that functions between "fine art" and "craft" and transcends national styles and topical issues.