“By creating portraits, I communicate an entire story about someone without having to say a single word.”
Tafy LaPlanche, an Afro-Latina portrait artist based in New York City and Savannah, Georgia. She paints dope and vibrant portraits for dope and vibrant people!
This was the first painting of my ‘Las Frutas’ series. She is the embodiment of the souls of my fellow women of color. Celebrating our beauty, boldness, strength, endurance, vibrancy, and so much more. How we keep pushing forward despite everything.
Born and raised in NYC, Tafy was always surrounded by diversity. It made her curious about other cultures and people’s heritage. That upbringing prompted her to travel to meet all kinds of people. And made her passionate in showcasing that within her art.
Amante de la fruta del dragón
I’ve always admired my fellow Puerto Rican sister for her immense individuality. She’s a woman of many looks but never strays from who she is on the inside and embraces her natural beauty. It truly was an honor to paint someone with such vibrance. This portrait serves as a reminder that you can be viewed differently by many people. To not allow that to change your view on yourself. The dragon fruits represent our first meal together when we visited our roots in San Juan.
Being both Puerto Rican and Haitian, throughout her life people always tried to place her in a box of one or the other. With her portraits, she showcases unique individuals who embrace both their culture and who they are outside of that. She also questions society's beauty standards and is a constant theme within her work.
The uniqueness of Tafy’s portraits lie in the fact that they showcase unique individuals who embrace both their culture and who they are outside of that.
At the age of thirteen, she was diagnosed with type one diabetes. She was considered to be one of the older patients and did not have priority over the Nintendo 64. She was given paper and a pen instead. Her days at the hospital were filled with drawing people as they passed by her room. This prompted her mother to put her in an art school. However, she was placed in a school where they only spoke Mandarin! There she learned to draw portraits and paint landscapes. Despite the language barrier, she realized how art in itself was a universal language.
When her mother placed her in an art school, it was in one where they only spoke Mandarin! This is where she realized how despite the language barrier, art in itself was a universal language.
As someone of Haitian descent, there were interests in her art skills and possibly becoming a Haitian painter. The pressure to be someone slowly made her dislike painting landscapes despite her skills in it. During pre-college, she went abroad to Tuscany for a change of scenery. It was here when she had her canvas and paints out, overlooking a stunning landscape, when the sound of buzzing surrounded her. Moments later she realized she got stung by a bee because she couldn’t see out of one eye. SHE WAS ALLERGIC! Her eyelid had blown up.
Vulnerability is sometimes viewed as an undesirable trait in a man. To define him as weak. When I found my muse for this painting (a young man with vitiligo), I found that we not only get judged for not being strong but also solely based on our skin. I find that there is such immense beauty in accepting your vulnerability and the skin you live in. This challenges the viewer to consider what true beauty really means and how we can find strength within that meaning. The mangos represent both mine
“It’s one thing to capture someone’s likeness, but my goal has always been centered around how one perceives someone versus how they perceive themselves.”
As you look at the portrait and take her in, the subject looks back at you and questions society's view on beauty. The golden foil around her represents that no matter what, she is beautiful inside and out and that radiates from her. The pawpaw fruit serves as a reminder to move away from scarcity (the parts of life that deplete you) and toward abundance (the things in life that energize you).
An old Italian woman came to the hill where she was and offered Tafy to come to her home to remedy the bee sting by placing an onion over her eye. Naïve and hopeful she followed. As Tafy watched the woman interact with her family and go about her daily tasks, she realized there and then her passion for telling people’s stories through portraiture. By creating portraits, she could communicate an entire story about someone without having to say a word. And to connect despite where we may come from.
Prize Ribbon (1)
Describe your image
Women are often told to not come across as intimidating. To downplay their strengths and not be so bold. When painting this I said f*** that! Being apologetically yourself is the energy I gave this portrait. It's ok to be your bad ass self. My hope is that this painting helps the viewer feel as confident as she is. I added papayas into the background to dare everyone to be as bold as they are.
Every person that is portrayed in her portraits starts with their story. It’s one thing to capture someone’s likeness, but her goal is centered around how one perceives someone versus how they perceive themselves. Based on the energy and vibe she gets from her subject, she selects her palette using color symbolism. This helps the viewer gain insight into who the person is on the inside.
My mom hadn’t been to Puerto Rico since I was born. So when I brought her back to where she was born, all she wanted was Mofongo for breakfast. However everywhere we went they said that they made it for lunch due to the prep time. Finally, a hole in the wall place welcomed us in and made it for us. In addition, they made us some fresh guava paste and fried cheese. And for that, I will always refer to my fellow Puerto Ricans as “my sweet people".