Basil Kincaid's Wade in the Water directly questions religious notions and the role of Christianity for Black life.
“Any time you strip someone of their belief, and force them into new beliefs, that practice is bad,” says Kincaid. “But Black people in the U.S. have been able to take Christianity, and somehow transmute it into something useful.”
In the quilt, we see a brown figure—a human form—being embraced and scaffolded by the black figure—the eternal form.
“It’s about being guardians, looking out for each other throughout all the different iterations of being in life,” says Kincaid. “As a child, I was scared to be baptized. I remember the gravity of that moment. I remember being told baptism means you’re giving away your life. I remember how big that felt as a kid. When I did choose to get baptized I was always thankful it was my dad who baptized me. If it wasn’t him, I wouldn’t have done it.”
Throughout time, tapestries have been used to tell stories of what was happening. These quilts map in some way the very personal journey Kincaid is on. They also tell a story of the expanding liberation of all the people who share his various communities. As he says, “My work is telling the story of how, over time, we are becoming more free.”