Spice Art

Gabriel Nelson

About Gabriel Nelson

My name is Gavi. I grew up Orthodox/Chabad in the religious 5 towns community of New York. I moved to Israel over 9 years ago, where I fell in love with the incredibly diverse food culture. I began to explore the culinary movement here, built upon the cuisines of immigrants from the world over. I learned how food has the power to connect. With that in mind, I opened my food tour business, giving both locals and tourists the opportunity to discover the best “under the radar” eateries that the shuks (markets) of Israel have to offer. Shortly after, I opened my online spice shop and also began creating art out of spices. I have always had a love of nature and how it relates to me as an individual in this world, and so to create art with spices seemed like a beautiful way to combine the human spirit with the natural world. Beyond my work, I am also involved in queer activism within the Orthodox world, working from my own personal experience in the hopes to create a more inclusive environment that celebrates queer people.

About Spice Art

Shmita is a time for rest, a time to take a step back. We acknowledge that the fruits of Israel hold a holiness that is beyond us. And while many choose to avoid the harvest of this year, the true magic is actually to enjoy the fruits of Israel and the holiness that they hold within. And in a particular way, this connects quite well to the idea of low waste, for in the shmita year we are supposed to dispose of this “holy waste” in a way that allows it to return to the ground, almost like an ancient compost. When thinking of what materials to use for my art, all the obvious mediums came to mind – acrylic paint, colored pencils, etc. But then I thought to myself, why not use nature? The bright turmeric yellow, or the deep purple sumac. These beautiful colors can be found in nature, untouched, unprocessed. My art incorporates these holy pieces of our land, natural hues shining bright off the piece of paper. And unlike paints and pencils which last forever, my art is temporary. I spend hours working on a piece, and once done I snap a photo, saving the memory of what was. But then I take the paper with the spices outside to my compost bin and return nature to its creator, allowing the circle of life to continue.