Seating arrangement

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    Photo: William Arnett, 1998

Like many African Americans in the rural South, Sewell uses chairs, stools, and seating arrangements in her front yard in ways that are widely understood to indicate honor, respect, and hospitality. Chairs play many symbolic roles in the African American yard. A lone chair, sometimes adorned but often humble and plain, can stand for the throne (and presence) of Christ and, as such, often receives prominent placement. Similarly, the chair can symbolize the spirit of a cherished ancestor, or community leader, or friend, thus providing a demigod-like form of protection. Most often, though, such seats are used as a sort of welcome sign or subliminal invitation: "I am a person who invites you into my yard and home."