Nneka Edwards

Artist bio

Nneka Edwards is a prolific and self-taught poet, author and artist who hails from the twin-island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. Nneka is passionate about the arts, foreign-language learning and education. Nneka holds a B.A. in East Asian Studies from McGill University (Montreal, Canada) and a master’s degree in International Cooperation from Yonsei University (Seoul, South Korea).


The Epic of Salvation – Of Fish and Felines


Digital Art

Artist Statement

This concept came to me the very night that I decided to enter the Engage Art contest, which was also the very first time that I saw the Facebook ad for the competition. I have simply (for the most part) reproduced the image that I saw in my mind's eye (the artwork was done digitally). I 'saw' two lion faces on either side of my 'canvas' with a middle section filled with battling angels and demons (which I changed to a cross in my final version). Below I saw a 'net' (paper with crisscross lines) and fish moving from one side to the next as they moved from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. The fish that had been 'redeemed' were more brightly coloured than the ones in the kingdom of darkness. I immediately and instinctively knew that the net and the fish represented the concept of 'fishing for men' and that the fish represented people. In my final version I placed two small nets below the section with the cross to show that both sides of the divide are constantly fishing for men (whatever God does, the enemy tries to imitate, even though, technically speaking we land in his net from birth). One net is black and one is brightly coloured. The black net is a snare and speaks of captivity. The rainbow net is a promise of true freedom through joyous and wholehearted submission to Christ. I decided to change one set of fish to jellyfish to better illustrate the concept of becoming a new creation in Christ, and also to better represent the wickedness and moral poison of the kingdom of darkness. The brightly coloured redeemed fish all have some green in them (to represent abundant life) and each is uniquely patterned even though each carries the signature print (imprint) of the (mane/of the Nature) of the Lion of Lions. As opposed to the cookie-cutter effect of the culture of the kingdom of darkness (e.g. through peer pressure), the kingdom of God is all about expressing our own unique identity even as we become more Christ-like. The highway to hell is broad, so the jellyfish outnumber the 'redeemed' fish. The pathway to paradise is strait and narrow and "few there be that find it."

I chose the paper patterns for all of the elements very carefully. I knew that Satan had to be a dark lion, but still an attractive one since his way of thinking is attractive to many sinners. I knew that the lion representing the Lion of the Tribe of Judah was going to be bright and beautiful and as close as I could humanly get to 'glorious,' I played around with quite a few paper options for His mane and face. At one point I considered using some very pretty yellow and white paper which gave a lovely golden effect, but in the end, multicoloured floral paper won out. It was a more dramatic match that easily and more obviously 'outdid' the beauty of the black lion. I also decided to give the black lion a black mouth with white teeth to represent his evil speaking. I gave the King-of-Kings lion a floral mouth with white teeth to represent his poetic proclamations and sweet, life-giving Breath. There is a good deal of pink in the lion because it's a pretty colour (in my opinion) and I think of God as a Beautiful Being. I don't think the pink makes Him any less masculine (not with those teeth!). Placing both lions in the top section represents the spiritual nature of the battle between them, and the fact that that conflict plays out in the heavenly realms put spills out on earth below in the lives and hearts of men. The biggest battleground is the hearts and minds of men (as represented by the fish and the hearts that you can find on them).

I loved the pop of the green background for the cross, and I liked that it went well with everything else. It just seems to proclaim: abundant life. I liked the mellow green of the actual cross because it's very peaceful and soothing and Jesus is the Prince of Peace and very gentle (when He's not busy being the Lion of Judah). Green reminds me of Nature, of plants and leaves and trees ... which reminds me of life. The cross as a symbol of salvation is central to the tale of humanity and God's love for man, and Satan's hatred of both God and man. So, placing the cross between the two lions and dead centre at the top, was deliberate.

It took me a couple of hours to complete the piece.

How it fits into contest

This art piece depicts the battle over the souls of men, which is what any battle in the Bible is essentially about. The need for spiritual armor as illustrated in this portion of scripture, is really an extension of, or reflection of, the wars which take place in the unseen realm (in higher realms – as indicated by the two lions being in the upper portion of the collage) as God and Satan duke it out over the eternal destiny of all of humanity. As verse 15 implies, when we as believers fit our feet with the readiness that comes with the gospel of peace, we literally race to the battlefield and join in combat as we joyously seek to win souls for Christ (the green colour of the cross section represents John 10:10).

We understand that Satan is especially angry because he hates that God’s saints are maturing and becoming more Christ-like and more like the worthy adversary he hates, which is an indication that his doom is not far off. And so, he prowls about like the ravenous feline that he is and savages anyone that he can (1 Peter 5:8). Between verses 18 and 20, Paul prays for courage to spread the gospel fearlessly, which is no wonder when we consider the fact that the Satan is not a toothless predator (both lions in the artwork are pretty toothy for good reason!). Satan, as the father of spiritual spin and religious propaganda, devours in many different ways, but especially through the psychology of illusion and deception (John 8:44). This is why the ‘jellyfish’ are bobbing aimlessly, maybe not even realizing that they are spiritual vagabonds or that the soul-wastage of wandering is actually a direct route to eternity in a very hot place.

The Good News in all of this is that Jesus came to destroy the works of the evil one (1 John 3:7-8), as indicated in the artwork by the sense of purpose in the positioning the fish and their brighter colours (i.e. as compared with the jellyfish).

There is no outright fighting seen in this piece just like one does not see or hear the sounds of spiritual battle in the natural realm. The casual observer and non-believer may find it hard to swallow that there is so much action taking place in an unseen realm. However, in the artwork, the clear enmity between both lions is representative of the raging battle.

Longer Explanation:

This piece depicts the colossal cosmic battle over the souls of men, which is essentially a war between two lions that rages around the cross of Christ and His simple yet powerful offer of salvation to all mankind. The centerpiece of this artwork is a light-green cross that is set against a bright-green background. The green represents the abundant life that Jesus offers to all who genuinely accept Him into their heart. The pattern and soothing shade of the lighter green implies simplicity, beauty, peace and gentleness. The brighter backdrop suggests joy and life. It is in the center because the very existence and history of humanity pivots around this reality.

On either side of the green section are two lions – the ultimate spiritual rivals. On the left is the Sovereign Lord - the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. On the right is Satan – the roaring lion who is looking for people to devour. They are both eyeballing each other angrily, as they are bitter enemies. God’s anger is righteous fury. Satan’s anger is unbridled rage. God is the more beautiful of the big cats here. The rainbow palette of His mane and face represent His splendor and glory. The white of His eyebrows and whiskers represent His ancient, timeless, ageless existence and wisdom. The floral patterns behind his teeth represent the life-giving poetry of His proclamations and the healing beauty of His very breath. Satan, by contrast, is dark. His speaking is dark lies. There is no good in him. And yet, he does not make himself unattractive. Unsuspecting victims would still be drawn to his seeming appearance of beauty, as dark as it is. He tries to imitate the King of Kings, but there are subtle (yet big) differences between the two that indicate that Satan cannot compare and is, therefore, no match.

In the bottom portion of this artwork, one can see how the battle in the heavenly realms between God’s army and Satan’s army spill over into the most critical aspect of human life – salvation or the lack thereof. There are two nets positioned right below the cross. One is black and belongs to the devil. It is a net that is designed to be a snare. Next to it is the (rainbow-palette) net of the Kingdom of God – His message of salvation - which captures the heart of those who choose Jesus. This net is beautiful and attractive (to those who have eyes to see) and ultimately leads to the perfect definition of freedom – submission to the laws, commands and Word of God; wholehearted obedience to God.

When the jellyfish under the influence of the devil pass through that net into the Kingdom of God (and we were all once ‘jellyfish’) they become new creatures in Christ – ‘a whole other kettle of fish.’ They no longer bob about aimlessly on dark currents that are designed to lead sons of the serpent directly to hell. When the repentant find themselves as new ‘fish’ creatures on the brighter side of the divide, there is a new sense of purpose and direction and bigger and more beautiful life.

As we can see, there is no middle ground. One is either on one side or the other; and as the jellyfish with the purple heart illustrates, someone could have a ‘good heart’ (by human standards) and still be hell-bound. The only bridge that leads from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light is the cross and accepting Jesus’ gift of salvation. The ‘jellyfish’ in the realm of darkness, most times, would not be aware that they are engulfed in a bitter battle; neither would they be aware that the soul toxins and spiritual poison that define their ‘jellyfish’ identity spring from one source – Satan – the father of lies.

There are fewer fish in the Kingdom of God than in the kingdom of darkness because the highway to hell is broad, while the pathway to paradise is strait (spiritually challenging) and narrow. In the end, though, God will have the final say – Eternity and all of Creation belong to Him. In His mercy, He gives us opportunity after opportunity to figure that out.



How to Purchase this Artwork

This is a piece of digital artwork that can be sold as prints (11"x14" - TT$500.00 / US$75.00 for a block-mount print ... other sizes may also be available). Prints would be giclee prints which offer vivid colour that is highly fade-resistent. The prints can be mounted on a special board to offer a modern no-frame finish. Prints can also be matte framed. For more details:

Other Goods & Services Available from this Artist

1. Direct Commissions
2. Corporate Workshops
3. Small-Group Workshop (paper collage, painting or drawing)

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