“I had three chairs in my house; one for solitude, two for friendship, three for society.”
– Henry David Thoreau
We choose chairs for their aesthetics, construction, ergonomics. The function of chairs matter, but sitting is never just about sitting.
A single, empty chair in a welcoming place beckons, seduces you to get off your feet, to sit, sink, pause and look inward and outward and feel the wonder of not moving and taking a moment just to be.
Conversely, if that same chair, sat alone or faced a wall, it could shame, isolate and refuse comfort for the sitter. A chair on its side telegraphs upheaval, chaos, even crime.
In pairs, chairs spawn interaction and anticipation. Side-by-side, face-to-face, back-to-back empty chairs in twos are for friends, lovers or people alone who wait and wonder when or if the empty seat will ever be taken.
Three chairs in a row are a classroom. Around a table, those same chairs are a meeting or a meal. Chairs are situational entities, configure them with other chairs or objects and they call people to connect, communicate, confront—talk to the chair—or pray.
Chairs are central to how we conduct our lives. Every chair tells a story. Everyone has a chair story to tell.
In addition to creating art about chairs, I have put together a talk, “Where Do You Sit In Life?” that explores chairs as history, power and identity.