Meditations of the Heart

Meditations of the Heart
June 4, 2018 No Comments » News Richard Bass

Meditations of the Heart

Wasaba SoulQueenWu Sidibay

This summer, a series of paintings by Wasaba Sidibay will be on display in the hallway between the sanctuary and Founders Hall. Titled “Meditations of the Heart,” the series is a documentation of her meditations and prayers. A student at Wesley Theological Seminary, the works are the result of her struggles as she wrestled with her faith.

Artist’s Statement

As an artist, I believe I have the responsibility to document history and to tell a story. As a womanist, I internalize the significance of telling the story through my lens.

“Meditations of the Heart” is a documentation of my meditations and prayers.

As I began my matriculation at Wesley I experienced a deconstruction of my romanticized faith. After having conversations with my mentor Dr. Shively Smith and reading Howard Thurman’s Meditations of the Heart, I came to the conclusion that God is big enough to handle my frustrations, God is not intimidated by my questions, and to love is to honor the tension.

Throughout this work, I dealt with the topics of theodicy, dehumanization, human dignity and the Africanization of the biblical text. I wanted to embrace the tension of these realities and be present in the moment. I wanted to show up in these very difficult moments and document my lamentations, my questions, my hopes, and my confusion.

I am sure that those who interact with these pieces will receive them in various ways but a central goal of mine is to affirm the humanity of the people in these pieces, to document the history and to hopefully invoke real feelings. We live in a paradigm where violence, catastrophes, social justice initiatives and black bodies are sensationalized.

I challenged myself and I hope to challenge others to be present in the tension, to feel what others are still feeling, to not forget, and to be deeper touch with our humanity.

My Process

In case you were wondering about my process, I initially saw images in my head and knew that I did not want to paint or use any technique that I wasn’t familiar with. I wanted to document my prayers as soon as possible. Brainbridge illustration board and alcohol markers were the materials that were conveniently available to me and also fit my budget. The abstract designing of the lines documented the expression of the emotions, words and thoughts in of my prayers. I listened to my heart and I created lines based on what I heard. I didn’t realize that my artwork resembled stained glass until someone mentioned it to me.

About Wasaba SoulQueenWu Sidibay

My name is Wasaba SoulQueenWu Sidibay. I was born and raised in Queens, New York. My mother is a devout Christian and my father is a devout Muslim. Growing up with two parents from different faith backgrounds has heavily influenced my understanding of God and religion. Witnessing the authentic and genuine ways parents where led to connect with God assured me that God is big enough to connect with all of us in a variety of ways. My mother who is a single parent granted me the blessing of choosing my religion. My mother would always say to me, “you’ll know when you know”. At the age of 22 years old, while in undergrad, at Lincoln University of PA, I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and savior. That same year I accepted the call to attend Wesley Theological Seminary in pursuit of my masters in divinity. In the early stages of my Christian journey, my father, who is Muslim, disowned and dissociated himself with me because I chose to be Christian. This reality was very traumatic for me and at the time it didn’t help to be in a place like seminary because I was challenged on everything I came to understand about God, Christianity and the Bible.

Miraculously enough, while this was one of the most painful experiences I have ever had in my life, this experience birthed my body of work, “Meditations of the Heart”. One day in meditation I began to pray, as prayed I moved my hands in different motions, and in doing that I experienced embodied prayer. It was cathartic, it was life giving, it was the presence of the Holy Spirit. In this space I was able to acknowledge my trauma, my hardships, my pains, questions, hurts etc. I poured out everything and in turn God poured into me. I didn’t know that creating my first piece “I’ll Never Know the Cost” would turn in to an entire body of work but I am humbled and grateful that in my darkest hour, God was still my light. My prayer and hope is that those who engage this body of work are inspired, intrigued, ignited to have conversation and are led to create (however that may show up) in a way that honors their humanity, their experience, the experience of others and most of all honors God.

P.S. Wasaba means with God anything is possible and for me, the possibility of my pain turning in art, my trial turning into triumph, my trail of tears leading me into victory is more than enough to keep me going.

Wasaba SoulQueenWu Sidibay
Meditations of the Heart

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