COLUMBUS (WCMH)–You may be on the hunt now for some special colored Hershey Kisses for Halloween. If you find some, Nelsa Abalo would love to have the wrappers. You can have the candy. From Cuba to Columbus, her artwork is as tasty as a perfect piece of chocolate.
“Me Gusta!” Nelsa Abalo smiles as she points to a piece of her art in the basement. “I love this one,” her granddaughter translates. “Why?” I ask. “Because it’s my daughter,” she smiles.
Nelsa’s basement is filled with the art she loves.
“Oh, Bueno,” She loves.. faces.
“This is my husband’s therapist,” her daughter translated as she showed the work on the wall.
She began painting in Cuba.
“Seven, eight years,” Nelsa said referencing how old she was when she began painting.
Her family left Cuba for Costa Rico hoping to make it to the United States. They did.
“Miami, my passport no good,” she said in broken English.
An illegal immigrant, Nelsa was put in prison.
“One year,” she said.
She earned her GED, and her freedom, with her art.
“I started by doing greeting cards and poems for the officers in the prison.”
From Miami to Columbus, she made her living as a tailor and the art was her sweet tooth.
All of this art is just the wrappers from Hershey kisses. She paints the outlines then paints with wrappers behind the glass.
“I use a lot of vibrant colors. It reminds me of Cuba.”
Ramona Reyes at Our Lady of Guadalupe put Nelsa’s art on the wall and people ate it up.
“It drives her seeing something in a finished product and how happy it makes people feel,” Ramona smiles.
Before the art shows opened at the Cultural Art Center, Nelsa was sold out. Time to buy more candy.
“I get a lot of satisfaction from my artwork. I push myself because if other people can do it, why can’t I,” Nelsa said proudly.
From Cuba to Columbus, Nelsa is home and as long as her fingers will allow, she’ll keep unwrapping kisses and making smiles.
“I love Columbus, I love Ohio!”