SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — The Jepson Center has a new art exhibition inspired by artist Tafy LaPlanche’s native Haitian culture. The Afro-Latina portrait artist created a series of five pieces entitled “N/um” which depict a ceremonial healing dance, an important ritual in Voodoo. The dance is said to offer spiritual and physical health to people who are suffering under the influence of the spirits of death.
The paintings show the way the dance progresses and the journey of the N/um. The N/um is difficult to describe. It is an object of spiritual energy that moves through the body to the skull and brain. The N/um is represented by botanicals in the paintings.
By the last painting, the N/um has reached the skull.
“There it stops and explodes in the brain,” LaPlanche explains on her website. “This explosion is the sign of rebirth and the reason why the skull is the symbol of a new life oriented toward the right way according to the good spirits of the ancestors.”
LaPlanche has an interesting entrance into the art world. When she was a child she was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and spend time in a hospital. At the hospital, she was not allowed to play with games like the kids that were younger than her, so she began to draw the nurses that entered her room.
From there, her mother enrolled her in art school, where they only spoke Mandarin. LaPlanche quickly found out how much about art can be communicated even with a language barrier.
“I think the great thing about art is that, through the eyes of other people, it kind of unlocks all this different potential that it has,” LaPlanche said in a lecture on Thursday.
LaPlanche thought that this series was timely given the pandemic that has impacted so many people in the past several years.
“This series does kind of really touch on this holding on to pain for maybe a little too long and just coping with it and learning how to let go of that,” LaPlanche said.
The series is available for viewing outside of the Jepson Center on Barnard Street. It is part of the Boxed in/Break out project which focuses on “activating the public facing windows” of the Jepson Center. You can learn more about the project and the series by visiting the link here.
You can also check out LaPlanche’s work on her website by visiting the link here.