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 Garment of Praise & Worship Wear



Artist Statement

My artwork features a bèlè dancer in bright wear. The bèlè is a French Caribbean dance but we have adopted it as part of the culture of Trinidad and Tobago. The word "bèlè" is French Creole for "beautiful" and also carries the connotation of "gentle".

The bèlè usually features female dancers and male drummers. The ladies wear bright headpieces and matching frocks with a plain underskirt and colorful overskirts. The dancers elegantly move across the stage and when they spread their arms and fully extend their skirts, there is a wondrously dramatic display of color that is all the more captivating when contrasted with the muted colour of their hands having been down.

This piece (here) represents Isaiah 61:3 and the related lines of a popular Christian song: put on the garment of praise for a spirit of heaviness. The deep-black background represents a spirit of heaviness or depression, while the bright costuming of the dancer represents the garment of praise.

The semi-raised arms of the dancer suggest praise and worship and a triumphant display of confidence and joy. The beautiful contrast between the dancer's outfit and the black background tell a tale of dark emotions being defeated by heartfelt worship declared or sung in spirit and truth.

The folk dance itself is a dance of joyous pride and artistic vindication. The accompanying folk song challenges the dancer/s to show how well they can dance, as the drummers cheekily chant: I never knew that you could dance the bèlè! ... ... in like manner, darkness may taunt us (albeit it in a less benign way and in bullying fashion) but when we pour forth soul-watering praise and worship, darkness is forced to flee and admit defeat.

How it fits into contest

Ephesians 6:10-20 reminds me of the spiritual importance of being 'clothed.' To be battle-ready a soldier needs to don armor. Likewise, in a more general sense, children of God can live victoriously when we are robed with righteousness, which includes an attitude of gratitude towards God. That attitude of gratitude, metaphorically speaking, is gorgeous layers of beautiful and bright Kingdom fashion. Without the garment of praise, we would be only partially clothed and therefore also exposed, to some extent, to hostile spiritual elements.

By the way, notice the dancer's headdress. It could easily be a substitute for the helmet of salvation. Thinking godly thoughts means thinking beautiful thoughts that keep us close to our Loving Creator. The battle that rages in the spirit realm contends for the hearts and minds of men. Victory or defeat begins in our thought life - our inner conversations.

It is worth noting that when Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden, the first thing that they became shamefacedly aware of was their nakedness. Spiritual apparel varies, but all spiritual apparel (whether made of metaphorical military steel or not) is essentially a form of armor.

The garment of praise could be either offensive or defensive and offers a foolproof strategy for dispelling dark-mood onslaughts. I have made good use of it many times and it works like a charm. When I make singing proclamations or confident declarations about God's perfectly beautiful nature, dark clouds of depression (which are always demonically designed) give way to golden outpourings of sunshine and sunbeams, as God's sweet grace heals my soul and washes away every muddy feeling or blue mood. Just as the color of the bèlè dancer overpowers the black background, so too praise and worship and thankful adoration is a Davidic weapon of warfare. It is the life-giving, soul-watering, promise-proclaiming, devil-defeating sword of the Spirit. Sometimes we may have to hastily remind ourselves to put it on, but once we do, we'll be battle-ready.

Other Goods & Services Available from this Artist

I have many books on Amazon under my name - Nneka Edwards. These include books for all ages, in both poetry and prose (and also include coloring books).

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