Yesterday at Maker Faire Bay Area in the Textile Talk Lounge, artist Ramekon O’Arwisters gave a compelling talk on his social and artistic project, called Crochet Jam. Ramekon goes out into the community and teaches people how to crochet, and then lets them loose to work on a collaborative tapestry. He only instructs how to do the crocheting — not how the piece should look. “Play is the foundation of creativity,” he says. As a result of this freeform approach, it is a beautiful and interesting object, with rows perpendicular to each other, long skinny bits rambling off the edges, and fabrics of every shade, pattern, and texture.
Growing up in North Carolina, Ramekon used to help his mom and grandma make quilts. A few years ago, a friend taught him how to crochet, and it reminded him of those happy times. He decided to start a project that would enable groups of people to collectively work on a piece of art, with a focus on relaxation and human connection. Far from a gallery piece that is static and distanced from the viewer, Crochet Jam tapestries have been displayed in galleries, but once the show is over, Ramekon takes them down and brings them back to more Crochet Jams, to grow and evolve. Participants have the opportunity to become a part of the art that inspired them.
“The social practice of uniting communities — that’s the art. This [the tapestry] is just a symbol of that.”