A colorful multi-media sculpture.

Ramekon O'Arwisters, "Cheesecake #8," 2019; textiles, ceramics from the CSULB Ceramic Arts program; 15 x 17 x 15 in.; photo by David Schmitz

Ramekon O’Arwisters

McLaughlin Awards, 2021
Artist in Residence, 2020

A portrait of a person against a light background.

Artist Statement

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

In my new series of sculptures, Cheesecake, the works have transformed from something broken and needing mending to fully determined and self-aware. Being Black and Queer, the full complexity of the moniker “Cheesecake,” used to objectify an attractive, sexualized man or woman, is not lost to me. Instead I embrace it, subverting the demeaning implication in describing my objects. I develop sculptural hybrids by combining lacy, embellished fabrics with ceramics contributed by students and faculty from California State University at Long Beach.

While at Headlands

I will be expanding work on a new series of sculptures which I call Cheesecake. This body of work emerged from the earlier series, Mending, using everyday household pottery crocheted into a fabric of dimensional tapestry. Cheesecake is a series of knotted, twisted fabric and yarn, embellished and integrated with shards of broken ceramics. The process is developed intuitively with attention given to balance, form, structure, color, and texture. The underpinnings of the work come from African-American quilting, sewing, mending, and crocheting.

Working at Headlands will allow for exploration of scale. I’ve also been thinking of adding additional materials in my practice which would be difficult to conceive in limited space.