|Southern Cross Turtle by Safina Stewart|
Safina writes, “Art and a pride in my cultural heritage allow me the opportunity to showcase creative reflection - giving me a platform to honour the Creator as one made in His image." Safina also enjoys using her skills to work with children and youth, sharing cultural insights through school artist-in-residence programs. She seeks "to raise awareness of issues hindering mutual respect [and] acceptance between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians, given her belief in the dignity and equality of all people."
vision for the market is to "be a cultural showcase, meeting place, community builder and business incubator, giving aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people access to the resources they need, the space to promote their culture, and the opportunity to achieve their potential." Safina and other Aboriginal artists (both non-Christian and Christian) actively participated in the Koorie Night Market, which encourages them as they see their culture affirmed and celebrated.
|Rainbow Serpent by Safina Stewart|
Safina's form of ministry is at Koorie and other similar art markets and shows, where she is able to speak casually with people and hear their faith stories. She tells them about the stories depicted in her art, as well as her own personal testimony. Through these conversations, the Lord sometimes gives Safina opportunities to minister to these admirers of her art. Many of the people she speaks with are white Australians, who don't understand how an Indigenous Australian can also be a follower of Jesus, while embracing their native culture. These conversations help increase understanding between believers of both communities.
|Strong Communities by Safina Stewart|
|Stingray by Safina Stewart|
|Intercessory Prayer by Safina Stewart|
The painting "Intercessory Prayer" delivers a reminder to Christians about their essential calling to pray passionately for those who have not yet come to Christ. With Christ as our centre, Christians are to share the Good News of Jesus‘ grace and forgiveness. It is interesting to note that the central ring of U imprints is facing outwards. Usually in Indigenous art the campfire scene has U imprints turned in toward the centre of the campfire. However, in this scene the artist has deliberately painted them facing outwards to depict the message that the church is called to be outwardly focused.
|Propa Good News, eh? by Safina Stewart|
In "Propa Good News, eh?" Safina depicts the Gospel story through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. The large gold star-like rings overlaying the image represent the Southern Cross constellation, which reminds us of Jesus' wounds from his death on the cross. A cross-shaped blue river also runs vertically through the painting, representing both Jesus and the River of Life flowing from God's throne, inviting the viewer to come soak in him!
The story actually begins in the top left of the painting, showing the original dreaming of the triune God, where he is surrounded by the people He has created to sit around His campfire in a close relationship with Him. (for more about how God and people are visually represented in Aboriginal art, see my post here). Next we see God in the Garden of Eden speaking with Adam and Eve (in yellow), while Satan lurks behind them as a serpent. Next we see the pair choosing to follow Satan and his lies, as they exit the Garden.
In the lower right area, Jesus returns to heaven and then sends the Holy Spirit to his followers, who are sitting around a campfire. From this central gathering, the Good News of the Gospel goes out into other communities, to the ends of the earth.
Lastly in the bottom left corner, we see people making a choice to join God's family by entering the "narrow gate," or rejecting him by walking away. Those who choose God are ushered into eternal relationship with the Trinity, while those who reject God are cast away, along with Satan, their representative.
Safina plans to make prints of her paintings available for purchase through her website sometime in April 2012. Her work is culturally beautiful and spiritually rich, and would make a great addition to any home.
|Seven Days of Creation by Safina Stewart|
video posted by the organization features several of its members, including Safina at the beginning and end.