Sheva Chaya Shaiman

Dreams and Visions

One doesn't have to be told that Sheva Chaya Shaiman grew up in Denver - it seems obvious when looking at the expansive and rich art in her Dreams and Visions Gallery in the Artists Quarter of Tzfat, which evoke thoughts of the wide open mountains of Colorado.

Sheva Chaya came to Israel in 1997, and spent her first years in Israel developing her unique style of painting. Sheva Chaya was an art history and visual art major at Princeton, and her art has continued to expand and grow since her arrival in Israel as she integrates the rich spiritual teachings of Judaism and Hassidic philosophy into her artwork.

Glassblowing Judaica

One art form that Sheva Chaya is exploring is that of glass-blowing. This does not seem surprising, considering that may of her paintings seem similar to the clear clean lines and shapes of glass. Her gallery, The Dreams and Visions Gallery of Tzfat, is full of blown glass shapes. One can see here how Sheva Chaya's inspiration is drawn from Jewish traditions and study - there are mezuzza covers (the covers of the scroll of parchment that Jews place on their doorposts), graggers (noisemakers used on the holiday of Purim to make noise and drown out the name of the arch-villain, Haman), Chai ("Life") pendants, menorah (candelabra) pendants and Eternal Light coverings for synagogue use.

Sheva Chaya's glasswork, as well as her paintings, evokes the mysticism and magical atmosphere of Tzfat. The colors are soft, yet vibrant, and she incorporates blues and violets into almost all her works - colors which are closely connected to Tzfat, as so much of the Old City of Tzfat is colored in hues of blue. Kabbalistic symbols and Hebrew letters are also woven into her works, an addition that binds her art to her deep commitment to Judaism and her Hassidic community.

One especially poignant series, "How Zayde (Grandfather) Came to Eretz Yisrael" tells the story of one elderly man's aliyah (immigration) to Israel. In paintings titled "Dancing in Simcha (Happiness)", "Oy Vey", "Kiddush (Blessing over the Wine)", "Hard to Move", "Love Pull" and "Heartstrings" she is able to convey the ups and downs of life and the religious and spiritual highs balanced against the day to day struggles of one's decision to move to Israel.

Sheva's Chaya's gallery is quite large, enabling her to invite groups in for presentations on Jewish women's expression, landscapes of the Land of Israel and Hasidic teachings. Many groups take advantage of the presentations which Sheva Chaya gives, and more than one visitor has noted that their visit to her Dreams and Visions Gallery was the high point of their Israel visit.