Growing up in 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, “Mending.” Employing ordinary household or decorative pottery, broken and discarded, I combined traditional crafts into a dimensional woven tapestry, stripping both cloth and ceramic of their intended function.
In his series of sculptures Cheesecake, the works have transformed from something broken, 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 sculpture. Weaving textiles around large, broken ceramics are stand-ins for my feelings of anxiety, fear, hopelessness, anger, and despair associated with the permanence of White-body supreme.
Combining lacy, embellished fabrics with ceramics contributed by students and faculty from California State University at Long Beach, my sculptural hybrids embody both danger and seduction.
I am the founder of Crochet Jam, a community arts project infused with folk-art traditions that foster a creative culture in cooperative relationships. Born in Kernersville, North Carolina, I earned an M.Div. from Duke University Divinity School in 1986. I was an 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, NY, 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, and a Pollack-Krasner Foundation Grant in 2021. My work has been featured in the LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, 7×7 Magazine, Artnet, the San Francisco Examiner, and Brian Boucher’s Daily Dispatch.
Portrait by David Schmitz