REDEEMER OF DREAMS
Background & Inspiration
Intrinsically woven into the fabric of Nya’s paintings is the theme of work. The artist rejects traditional notions that devalue the divine glory of work with what he considers “pernicious platitudes.” These are words in our everyday vernacular that equate work with “a job, toiling, slaving, laboring” and other stereotypical expressions like: “working to survive”, “just hustling,” “earning a living,” “making a living,” “wiling up time,” “clocking in and clocking out,” and “putting food on the table.”
However, while most of his paintings in his oeuvre discourse the theme in a very subtle manner that primarily alludes to the divine virtues of work, this piece entitled “Redeemer of Dreams,” through its salvaged remnants of old quotidian objects affixed to the canvas, discourses the theme in a more forthright manner.
Prior to commencing the actual painting and the preparatory drawings that accompany it, Nya’ traced the etymology of the word ‘work,’ and upon discovering its roots in the book of Genesis, he scribed the following phrases in his painting notes and preparatory drawings:
“To work is to Become; to work is to Reveal; to work is to Fulfill; to work is to Manifest; to work is to Discover; to work is to exercise Dominion, promote growth and supply what is missing while instituting, maintaining and preserving order in your mandated field of calling and area of gifting…” (see fig 1)
By capitalizing the words, Become, Reveal, Fulfill, Manifest, Discover and Dominion, Nya’s intention is to establish how ‘work’ preceded creation, unveiled creation and established creation. In other words, before God created the earth, work already existed in Him and when He spoke the earth into existence, work, by His Spirit, formed what He said.
“God, Work and Faith are inseparable, for faith and work were in Him and with Him before He began the beginning and His Word (the source of His Faith) has within it the power, capacity or “work” to manifest when Man hears, confesses, understands, obeys and retains it.”
As the old and rusty suitcase handle and zipper in the lower register of the composition suggests, it is only when a human being gets a grip on his life and settles down to earnestly thirst and diligently quest to discover his divine purpose for existence that he can begin to confidently work and walk towards his glorious destiny. In other words, work is the journey to every Man’s destiny and without work, every destiny remains hidden in ambitions, padlocked in careers, zipped up in earning a wage and veiled in toiling, jobbing, hustling and laboring to survive.
The dilapidated, sweat corroded and decaying state of the suitcase handle also alludes to the soporific, mind-numbing, dignity and honor-stripping nature of mere existence without vision, jobbing without work and laboring without passion. In other words, just hustling without a destiny, making a living without purpose and putting food on the table while oblivious to one’s divine assignment.
In essence, the salvaged suitcase handle is a metaphor for a Man’s life. With every passing day, he is drawing close to his departure from earth and unless he decides to “meditate” and discover the keys to unlocking the unique gift inside him, he is destined to toil and to be used and abused by the world system until he dilapidates, wears out and retires from adding value to humanity.
By definition, meditating implies training, calming and emptying the mind, often by achieving an altered state through focusing on a single object. This, therefore, means that true meditation is a process that involves clearing whatever was in one's mind and focusing on a distinguished object, subject, person or deity until the mind is altered or until the process of transforming and renewing the mind is initiated and doggedly pursued.
However, as the fading old English text and the script above the bridge dividing the composition in the painting suggests that any kind of meditation without the Word of God in a Man’s heart is futile. It is a temporary exercise that only cajoles his intellect, body and emotions but leaves his true self or the “immortal element” he seeks to satisfy - his spirit- still starved, diseased, weak and dying. It is important to emphasize that this is not an indictment on the plenteous of religions, gazillions of gods and trillions of spirits Mankind evoke and consciously or unconsciously meditate on in his desperate search for power, meaning and purpose for life. However, it goes without saying that spending time feeding one’s spirit with the food that created it – God’s Spirit Word - is a much more reasonable, sound and profitable proposition and investment than focusing one’s precious mind on the demanding gods of religion, impotent philosophies authored by mere mortals and cultic deities that are never satisfied.
As the showers of light cascading from the roof of the painting depict, meditating on the Word of God is the birthplace and beginning point for revelation and it is the revelation of his purpose for existence from his Creator that transforms a Man to become a world transformer upon discovering his assignment and diligently developing and serving his gift.
Hidden in your gift are your work and assignment
When any Man is illuminated by revelation, essentially the revelation of his origin in his Creator, what his Creator deposited in him, why he was created and what he was created to accomplish, he is empowered to discover his work and liberated to infiltrate his field of calling and diligently serve his gift until he restores order and transforms it through his influence and dominion. While this is alluded to in the painting by the light extinguishing the darkness thereby exposing the coded Scriptural text and the door that was buried under the callous texture, in the preparatory drawing (an x-ray taken from his work, "Heir of Inheritance"), it is the magnificent figure elevated to a position of king and priest reigning and exercising dominion and authority over the colony of earth that alludes to this (see fig 2).
The golden light washing away the debris and exposing the Holy Scriptures in "Redeemer of Dreams" is also a testament to how continuously meditating on the Word of God empowers and authorizes Man to flourish and be fruitful and profitable in his life by preserving his energy and time, as well as protecting his vitality, ideas, ingenuity and work from withering. Put differently, the revelation of a Man’s gift and purpose from his Creator retains his value by ascertaining that he prudently uses the tool of work and the gift of time to stretch his imagination and begin to take steps towards his glorious destiny with confidence and boldness. This is alluded to in the preparatory drawing showing a distinguished figure abiding in carefully selected coded Scriptures with its impressive hand and arm wrapped around clocks and other important time-measuring tools (see fig 3).
While it is meditation on the Words from his Creator and source of life that reveals to Man his identity, purpose and divine assignment thereby setting him free from the quandaries of banal existence, it is engaging the principles in the Word as he diligently works to develop and serve his gift to humanity that ensures his posterity. The hinges sustaining the rod upon which the door is resting and allowing it to open and close allude to this. In essence, it is only through work or becoming a slave to his gift that any human can open the door into his future exposed by engaging in The Word.
Conclusively, and perhaps more importantly, as the corroding metal, rags, rocks and sackcloth drenched in crimson and dabs of lamb’s blood at the foot of the painting suggest that it was the work of Christ, his unreserved passion for humanity and unwillingness to give in to the desires of His flesh that redeemed Mankind from the depths of poverty and aimless existence provoked by his disobedience or sin. Now, as the bridge deluged in snow white suggests, Jesus’ work of redemption, His sacrificial work (represented by the rich scarlet and purple hues amidst the debris) has now given every Man a choice.
One can choose to remain at the bottom of the barrel where toiling, sickness and diseases, jobbing, vain ambitions and desires, sorrow, decadence, stagnation, religion and resignation from a life of legitimate dominion reside; or one can choose to allow Grace to enter their heart, renew their thinking and usher them into a realm where the revelation of their true worth abides, their work resides, true joy dwells and ceaselessly abounds and provision for their divine assignment is guaranteed.