In nearly every tradition around the world, food is offered to the Divine as a sign of humility and submission, a solemn declaration that the prosperity and sustenance we gain from this world is not our own doing but a blessing bestowed upon us. SPIRITPLATE refers to the dish placed on altars around the world, upon which the offering sits for the Gods or Ancestors. It is the tool, the vehicle, and the portal through which connection with the Divine is made, and for us it is our tool through which we can give back, creating a happier, healthier existence for all of Earth’s creatures.
Howdy! My name is Nabila Daredia Juma and I am a Dallas-based artist, educator, and food enthusiast. I earned my BFA in 2012 from the Maryland Institute College of Art majoring in Fiber with a focus in Culture and Politics. During college, I spent a semester conducting research in Bali, Indonesia on the intersection between spirituality and the arts. Inspired by the Balinese dependence on rice as a physical and existential form of nourishment, I began creating rice paintings that spoke to themes of globalization, spiritual and cultural displacement, and the pursuit of communion. Perhaps even before this and all throughout college, I kept trying and failing to bring food into the art space. Having grown up in an Indo-Pakistani household with a large cultural emphasis on food and the rituals surrounding food, I was determined to have both be a significant part of my artistic practice. What I didn’t realize was perhaps I needed to bring art into the foodspace, rather than the other way around.
I was born with two extra lumbars in my spine, severely limiting my range of motion and physical activity. I would often find myself declining offers from friends and family to go out dancing or bowling or really any activity at all. Having finally had enough and determined to live a full and active lifestyle, I began aggressive rehab combining chiropractic visits with physical training and changing my diet away from animal products and processed foods to a high-nutrient plant-based diet. My transformation has rendered me far stronger and with more energy than I ever thought possible for myself. Inspired by this, I went on to earn certification in Plant-Based Nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Foundation through Cornell University.
Last year I got married to the most wonderful man, Aly Juma, who encouraged me to put my passion out into the world. His Texan-Tanzanian-Bengali crazy mixed with my Texan-Indian-Pakistani crazy just means we really love barbeques, hot sauce, football, a great book, and mom’s green chutney. And I’ve finally gotten him to admit his deep love for our pet cockatiel, Ari.
And thus, my deep spirituality, love for rituals, for art, and for colorful, beautiful, nutrient-rich (spicy) food, have come together to bring you SPIRITPLATE. This is my way of declaring my awe and humility for the great abundance and sustenance in my life. This is my way of practicing my faith, my way of giving back.
Thank you for joining me on this beautiful journey.