NARM Quarterly Spring 2021 - Page 2

Cover art, banner (detail) and back cover:

Ramekon O’Arwisters

Mending #21

fabric, ceramic

21 x 12.5 x 7 inches

Images courtesy of Patricia Sweetow Gallery & the artist, 2017. Photographs by David Schmitz.

Spring featured artist:

Ramekon O’Arwisters

Growing up in the Jim Crow South during the Civil Rights Movement,  Ramekon O’Arwisters had a safe haven, quilting with his grandmother, where he was “embraced, important and special.” His early memories prompted his nascent series of  unique crocheted/ceramic sculptures titled Mending. Employing ordinary household, or decorative pottery, broken and discarded, O’Arwisters combined traditional crafts into a dimensional woven tapestry, stripping both cloth and ceramic of their intended function.

In a new series of sculptures titled  Cheesecake, the artist's works have transformed from being broken and needing mending to being fully determined and self-aware. The moniker  "Cheesecake," used to objectify an attractive, sexualized man or woman is embraced by O'Arwisters, who is Black and Queer, thus subverting the demeaning implication in describing his said “objects.” Combining lacy, embellished fabrics with ceramics contributed by students and faculty from California State University at Long Beach, his sculptural hybrids embody both danger and seduction in the resulting bold ‘coming of age’ works.

O’Arwisters is the founder of  Crochet Jam, a community arts project infused with folk-art traditions that foster a creative culture in cooperative  relationships. "Crochet Jam," the artist noted in a July 2020 interview with Maria Porges for Sculpture magazine, "...engenders compassion and warmth. I want participants to be in a creative mindset without anyone dictating the creative process or worrying about the finished product. Crochet Jam is how I make liberation a form of art."

The artist was born in Kernersville, North Carolina and earned a Masters of Divinity from Duke University Divinity School in 1986. O’Arwisters was artist-in-residence at the de Young Museum, the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, and the Vermont Studio Center. Grants and awards include Artadia: The Fund for Art and Dialogue, New York, the San Francisco Foundation and the San Francisco Arts Commission Cultural Equity Program. He received the 2014 Eureka Fellow, awarded by the Fleishhacker Foundation in San Francisco. His work has been featured in the LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, 7×7 Magazine, Artnet, and the San Francisco Examiner.

For art inquiries, please contact Patricia Sweetow Gallery,  San Francisco at contact@patriciasweetowgallery.com

For more information on Crochet Jam visit the website at https://crochetjam.com/