Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Artists and Poets Respond to the Pandemic (17)

An excerpt from a poem by Yahia Lababidi and an artwork by Salma Arastu are my selections today from the online exhibition "Artists and Poets Respond to the Pandemic." Yahia's poem addresses the words "Spirit/Spiritual"; Salma's artwork is inspired by the word "Loss."

[. . .] Don't bemoan your four walls, give thanks, for your necessary isolation /
and pray to emerge from this chrysalis into a new consciousness. // [. . .]
~ from Section II of "Spiritual"

Salma Arastu, "Pandemic," 2020
Charcoal and Acrylics on Canvas
40" x 60"


Salma Arastu expresses her identity as "a woman, Hindu, Muslim, artist, and mother" who works "to create harmony by expressing the universality of humanity through paintings, sculpture, and calligraphy." Drawing her inspiration from her Indian heritage and Islamic spirituality, Salma seeks to "use [her] artistic voice to break down the barriers that divide in order to foster peace and understanding."

Influenced by her studies and experiences of different cultures, Salma, who resides in Berkeley, California, and has lived in Iran and Kuwait, has exhibited in nearly 40 solo shows nationally and internationally. In addition to receiving several prestigious awards, she has public art pieces on display in Pennsylvania and California and has written and published five books.

Salma also contributed to the exhibition the artworks "Prayer I" and "Prayer II" and the poem "Love and Adore (We Will Come Out Together)." 

Yahia Lababidi is the author, most recently, of Revolutions of the Heart (Wipf & Stock, 2020), a collection of essays, poems, and conversations. His several books of aphorisms include Signposts to Elsewhere (Hay House, 2019). In addition to writing nonfiction, Yahia publishes his poems widely in literary journals and anthologies and has been a nominee at least three times for a Pushcart Prize. Yahia's work has been translated into Arabic, Hebrew, French, German, Spanish, and a number of other languages.

St. Michael's Episcopal Church (Arlington, Va.), which supports the arts ministry I lead, is hosting the multi-part online exhibition. On the church's new Instagram page, you'll find images of other artworks; these are augmented daily. Websites, blog sites, and other information about all the participating artists and poets can be found at "Artists' Biographical Information" and "Poets' Biographical Information," respectively. Some of the artworks are available to purchase; see "Purchase List for Artworks."

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