First Happening at Imagining America Headquarters
By Imagining America | December 13, 2017
By Stephanie Maroney
In preparation for our first Happening at the Imagining America (IA) headquarters on Thursday, December 7, IA staff set up three stations for the local community to gather in various parts of the office. We planned for a loose and free-moving crowd, where folks might circulate throughout the space at will. Inevitably, within a half hour of starting the event, we were all crowded together in one space—filling our community room with warmth and chatter.
Our Happening was not quite the raucous, spontaneous performance that artist Allan Kaprow envisioned when he coined the term in the early 1960s (although we did display one of the original posters from the first “Happenings in 6 Parts”—courtesy of Herb Kohl). Rather, our Happening became a space to convene a beloved community, to be close to each other, and to share words, food, and feelings through the practice of Crochet Jam.
Crochet Jam is Bay Area artist Ramekon O’Arwisters’ social art practice—an embracing and inclusive crochet event that makes no attempt to dictate the creative process nor judge the finished product. Started in 2012, Crochet Jam is steeped in the African-American tradition of weaving, and rooted in O’Arwisters’ cherished childhood memories of his Grandmother’s non-judgmental practice without rules or limitations. O’Arwisters brought that same calm, creative, and joyful presence to our Happening as we crocheted alongside one another. From a colorful mountain of individual fabric strips, we tied, looped, and weaved together to create an unruly but united whole. This final piece will live in the IA offices as a playful reminder of our first Happening and of our deeply-textured local community.
Imagining America will continue to creatively build our community through Happenings on a bi-monthly basis. If you’re in our region, keep a lookout for details about the February Happening—coming soon!