Ramekon O’Arwisters

Artadia Awardee

Ramekon O’Arwisters is a social-practice artist who is known for creating collaborative, community-based projects infused with folk-art traditions that foster a culture of community building. His current project, Crochet Jam, is an on-going, rag-rug making event that allows participants to work together on a piece of art with a focus on liberation, relaxation, and human connection.

Crochet Jam is rooted in a cherished childhood memory steeped in the African American traditions of weaving and quilt making. Ramekon’s grandmother allowed him the freedom to add any color or pattern he wanted to her quilts. It did not matter if the fabric matched the color scheme or any particular standard quilt-making pattern. Togetherness and sharing stories, while calmly quilting without rules in a non-judgmental environment, was important. The quilting bees were calm, relaxing, and peaceful, which was the type of atmosphere a confused, little, black, queer boy needed when the world outside of his grandmother’s house in the 1960s and 70s was often negative, hostile, and unforgiving.

Born in Kernersville, North Carolina, Ramekon earned a M.Div. from Duke University Divinity School in 1986. He was an Artist-in-Residence at the de Young Museum (2013), the Djerassi Resident Artists Program (2003), and the Vermont Studio Center (1991). He has received grants from the San Francisco Foundation, and the San Francisco Arts Commission Cultural Equity Program. He was a 2014 Eureka Fellow, awarded by the Fleishhacker Foundation, San Francisco and 2016 Artist-in-Residence Program at Recology San Francisco.