Catholic Artist Spotlight - Nellie Edwards

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Today, I am very happy to share the lovely pro-life artwork of Nellie Edwards. I hope you enjoy getting to know Nellie and that you’ll take time to visit her website at www.ImmaculataArt.com.

Q: Please briefly introduce yourself and your family to our readers.

My husband and I have eight wonderful children and 11 grandchildren now…with two more “on the way.” I read Humanae Vitae as a newlywed and this prepared me, I believe, for marriage, motherhood and ProLife activism. My small group was twice made to stand trial for our ‘crime’ of sidewalk counseling at the local abortuary. Both times, through the power of the Rosary, we were vindicated and established our 1st Amendment rights to continue the effort. (Some of the Rosary stories can be read at ImmaculataArt.com.) We moved to North Dakota in 1997, after discerning it to be the will of God, though we had no family/ relatives here.

Q: As someone with no formal art training, what prompted your interest in creating such beautiful works?

I believe the Holy Spirit put the spark in my heart. Since I was a little girl, I dreamed of fine-art painting but eventually thought maybe it was not God’s will, since I tried and failed over the years, to produce something accomplished. Suddenly, in mid 2007, I found myself feeling strongly led to do a painting of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, (my canvas and brush, being the PC tablet and stylus our kids gave me…for an altogether different purpose) to whom I had no special devotion at the time.  At about the half way point, I received an invitation to give a ProLife talk at an annual Indian Congress – never before having such an opportunity. Other events relating to the artwork cause me to think that Kateri is key to Our Lady’s plan to have the “American Indians” take their place in the ProLife movement….to help bring an end to the abortion holocaust. I ask prayers for that intention.

Q: How would you describe the style of art you create?

I cannot honestly say I have a particular style…I certainly never thought I would do something so “impressionistic” as “Ultimate Love” but I just do my best to discern as I go, what God wills. Several have said mine is “quasi-iconic.” In truth, it is very much a spiritual exercise, like iconography.

Q: What is the process involved?

I pray for discernment and once I am convinced of the subject to portray, just start laying down color, with no preliminary drawings or visual aids. I always begin with the face(s), praying as I go, for the composition to unfold as God wills. One very important element of the process, which I realized after several months….that there would be crosses to bring the work to completion/fruition….(as my faith is being ‘refined’ so too, the artwork). Once a particular trial is “offered up” very soon the grace comes, to make real progress on the work at hand. The Lord has seen fit to allow me some very painful trials. I get to see visually, the reality of the graces that always come when we offer the merits of our crosses, through The Immaculate Heart of Mary, Mediatrix of Grace.  I have to recommend Total Consecration too, since this greatly helped my capacity to trust, that “all things work for good, for those who love and serve the Lord.” (Romans 8:28) Our Lady distributes the graces of the merits gained from “offering it up.”

Q: Who are some of your influences?

I have a little Auntie (God rest her soul) who always told me one day I would be a painter. After her death, I asked her to put in a word for me and I believe she did! In 1998 Bishop James Sullivan of the Diocese of Fargo, ND, told me he had presented some of the religious ornaments, made by myself and children, to the Holy Father, placing them into his sacred hands. He said, “The Pope immediately prayed a blessing for “The Edwards Family”, naming us! I gratefully claimed the graces of that blessing and believe this helped to bring about the path I am on. Pope John Paul himself, encouraged Catholic artists to pray and portray the beautiful Truths of our Faith. I have read his Letter to Artists.

Q: How has your work in pro-life ministry influenced your creative efforts and what is your goal in sharing your artwork?

I have seen firsthand, the horrific agony of young mothers, as they arrive for what they hope will be the solution to their situations, and can’t help but hope the artwork has been directed to help many on the frontlines, to utilize it as a visual for whomever arrives for their appointment with death. I realize those who do not know God, need ‘Visuals of Truth,’ to get past the abstracts so common with the issue of abortion…to help them see the wonder of God’s love, through Unborn Jesus, such as depicted in “Mother of Life” and “Word Made Flesh.” I also believe I have been called to reach out to non-Catholics through the artwork, especially with “Word Made Flesh.” Usually this is on an individual basis. Upon seeing it, people are nearly always open to hearing about Mary’s role in God’s plan of salvation and even the contraception/abortion connection. Some have actually wondered out loud how they missed that before! Glory to God!

Q: What advice would you give to mothers who dream of creative pursuits but fear they lack the time or talent?

Pray for guidance and offer up every possible frustration, humilation and whatever cross of the day. God will move you on the path He has chosen already for you. I encourage young mothers to keep priorities…After God, husbands and children.

Q: What are your dreams for the future of your artwork?

I dream of it being seen in Churches everywhere…serving to help those “personally opposed but” people in the pews, to realize there can be no compromise. I also hope it can help encourage ‘Adoration’ to the Blessed Sacrament, to help bring awareness of the “Real Presence” of Christ — the relationship he wants with His people. I strongly believe that if enough Catholics take time to visit The Real Presence, those graces of conversion will flow out to non-believers and they will appreciate the ‘real presence’ of the Unborn! I continue to pray about what the Lord may will for the painting…and at this point, think I am supposed to do a portrait of The Cure of Ars, to depict him in a more warm and loving manner. After that, the signs seem to point to a very different Divine Mercy (without changing the posture and rays coming from Christ) Please pray for me!

Q: How can readers find and order your art?

They can visit the new website at www.ImmaculataArt.com. Also, my direct email is [email protected]

Q: Are there any additional comments you’d like to share with our family of readers?

I just want to encourage those especially, who are veterans in the movement, based on my experience that God has Our Lady very busy, weaving a beautiful tapestry to help the world believe, and each of us are her threads! Especially to start taking time for Adoration on a regular basis! The distributor of the artwork is a former State Deputy of the North Dakota Knights of Columbus. He is passionately ProLife as are you and I and is delighted to help groups/ parishes by providing the prints at the lowest possible price. Perhaps there are some who would like to act as sponsors…such as KC councils…underwriting the prints to get into the hands of children in schools, youth groups, women in the abortion healing process etc.

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About Author

Lisa M. Hendey is the founder and editor of CatholicMom.com and the bestselling author of the Chime Travelers children's fiction series, The Grace of Yes, The Handbook for Catholic Moms and A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms. As a board member and frequent host on KNXT Catholic Television, Lisa has produced and hosted multiple programs and has appeared on EWTN and CatholicTV. Hendey hosted “Catholic Moments” on Radio Maria and is the technology contributor for EWTN’s SonRise Morning Show. Lisa's articles have appeared in Catholic Digest, National Catholic Register, and Our Sunday Visitor. Hendey travels internationally giving workshops on faith, family, and Catholic technology and communications topics. She was selected as an Elizabeth Egan Journalism Fellow, attended the Vatican Bloggers Meeting, the “Bishops and Bloggers” meeting and has written internationally on the work of Catholic Relief Services and Unbound. Hendey lives with her family in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Visit Lisa at www.LisaHendey.com for information on her speaking schedule or to invite her to visit your group, parish or organization.

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