Last year when racism started showing its ugly head in Trinidad and Tobago; one young lady who did not want to see her country go down this path, painted a picture that told a different story. “I wanted to do a piece to highlight unity”. She named it, Innocence to reflect that racism is a learnt behavior and that we should get back to our stage our innocence. Her name is Renee Roberts and she is one of the most multi talented catholic young women you will ever meet.
Renee has packed up a lot in her 23 years on this earth. In her parish of St Patrick’s, she was a altar server for over ten years, she was also a confirmation catechist, she sings and plays the guitar for the Sunday morning mass and she also sings with both the Marionette chorale and the UWI chorale. This might seem like a packed life for this final year UWI visual arts student but for Renee it is just the start of a journey in which she gives all thanks and glory to God.
Renee confesses to coming from a generally artistic family. “I was always the artsy child but I never knew how to paint”. As a student of St Joseph’s convent she chose art as one her CXC subjects although she said, “I was not good at painting at all”. She credits both her parents whom she calls “closet artist” for guiding her in the early years.
“It was the trauma that made me strong” she said vehemently, and then she shares the story of how God guided her into triumph despite a traumatic life experience. “I was about 14 and in form four preparing for CXC when there was a burglary at my home, I was the only one at home and I was assaulted”. For many a youth that may have been the end of a story but it is actually when Renee’s faith started to grow. “So I was a huge fan of Karen Sylvester and as part of my form four SBA I had to visit her home and her gallery. I was so inspired by her work that I literally learnt to paint overnight. After I left her gallery I instinctively knew what to do”.
“It was God”. She whispered, as if remembering a precious long lost memory then she said, “What happened to me was definitely divine, I felt like it was a gift from God, there was just this creative explosion inside of me. It was God making my world right again. This is where her art journey took on a new dimension and there was no stopping Renee after that. You can find another of Renee’s pieces on display at the Rotunda as she is making the trek to become a recognized artist in Trinidad and Tobago.
We sincerely thank Jade St Hiliare to directing us to this wonderful young woman. Do you know another catholic woman whose art we can highlight for Visio Divina? We would appreciate feedback on other catholic women in the arts.
Join us now as we as we journey through a Visio Divina experience with this piece. . If you are not familiar with Visio Divina, you may know, Lectio Divina which is a method of praying with scripture, started by the late great Fr. Michel De Verteuil. Visio Divina (Latin for “divine seeing”) is a method for praying with images.
Through Visio Divina we invite you to see beyond first and second impressions, and even beyond your initial ideas, judgments, or understandings. Our hope is to create a connection to the divine through art in Trinidad and Tobago..
So here is how we are going to do it.
1. Set aside 20 minutes in the day for the guided prayer experience
2. As you begin to prayer take a few minutes to open your heart and mind to God.
3. When you are ready, slowly look and notice the image, taking your time to let feelings and thoughts come to you as you take in forms, figures, colors, lines, textures, and shapes. What does it look like, or remind you of? What are your initial thoughts? What feelings are evoked?
4. Now, return to the image with an open heart and mind again. You may now experience new thoughts, meanings, and feelings. Start, exploring new meanings and feeling that come to you associated with the image. Be aware of any assumptions or expectations that you bring to the image. Regardless of your response to the image — delight, disgust, indifference, and confusion — contemplate prayerfully the reason for your response and what these responses might mean for and about you.
5. As you go deeper in this prayer, open yourself to what the image might reveal to you. What does the Spirit want to say, evoke, make known, or express to you in quiet meditation? What are your feelings, thoughts, desires, and meanings evoked by the image and how they are directly connected to your life?
6. Now, take the time to respond to God. Jot down in a journal the insights you want to remember, actions you are invited to take, wisdom you hope to embody, or any feelings or thoughts you wish to express. Bring your prayer to a close by resting in God’s grace and love.
Source info: https://www.patheos.com/resources/additional-resources/2009/07/praying-with-art-visio-divina