Taina Sisters, the duo muralists who are changing the game in the Philly Arts scene
Lily and Vanessa Vega come from a talented, arts-oriented family.
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Their Puerto Rican heritage could be seen within every painting and piece of art they create.
Even when they were growing up, Lily and Vanessa Vega heard stories about their family roots spanning generations in Ponce, Puerto Rico.
In Puerto Rico, I have an uncle who is a designer in Ponce who does sculptures,” Lily Vega said in an interview with AL DÍA News. “I have another uncle who is a singer and he used to be in a band and everybody in the family has either a music gene or painting and sculpting.”
Lily Vega, who is half of the company, Taina Sisters, says that she and her sister, Vanessa grew up painting, sculpting, and seeing their father sketch on notebooks.
“It was always around us, art and culture,” she said.
Although their mother wanted her to continue on with education, she also knew how crucial it is to expose her Latino culture, by way of her talent.
Vega decided to go to arts school in 2004. However, her dreams of becoming a fashion designer quickly changed when she took her prerequisite classes. The love of painting and mural arts ignited a fire inside of her.
“That's when I figured I really liked to paint more and fine arts and from that that's where I liked turning it into t-shirts and merchandise,” she said.
While also creating art in Philadelphia, Vega and her sister came up with the idea to create merchandise with their art on it.
Some of those art pieces are important Latino figures such as Marc Anthony, Celia Cruz, Hector Lavoe, and even Lolita Lebrón.
They also go to different fairs and festivals around Philly to show off their hand painted merchandise.
The fairs that they have been to are Feria Del Barrio, a cultural event highlighting Latino artists. The vibrant festival occurs in September during Hispanic Heritage Month.
The duo will also attend the 2022 Kensington Derby and Arts Festival on May 14.
“We try to be in as many fairs as possible, especially when it's nice out like in the summer and fall months when it's nice out so we can meet different people face to face,” Vega said.
Furthermore, the sisters also have a thriving Etsy shop and website with unique products like coqui pins, conga stickers with Puerto Rican flags on them, and decorative earrings that represent their Taino culture.
In addition to their energetic merchandise, they also have their art located in different parts of Philadelphia.
The sisters have been working with Mural Arts Philadelphia since 2020. They recently completed a mural located on Front and Susquehanna Streets.
“We've done some stuff with them, like signs around the city that spread the message around like, ‘Love even though you're keeping covered up,’” because of the pandemic, stuff like that,” she said.
Vega said that she and her sister are hoping to get their art located in the Philadelphia International Airport.
She and her sister are also aiming to do their first solo art show around September or October for Hispanic Heritage Month; however, they are still in the process of looking for the perfect location.
“As soon as we do that we will put that information on our website,” she said.
However, their end goal is to preserve the declining history of her neighborhood, Norris Square, in which she and her sister grew up.
“So much is changing in North Philly right now, our houses and condos are being built and a lot of people who are moving in are not Latino,” she said.
Vega also discussed the importance of looking after the culture in Norris Square.
“My sister Vanessa still lives in the house that we grew up in and that neighborhood,” she said. “In the summertime, we still go out and see the neighborhood and it's still a very big part of our lives so it's very important for us to lay roots with our art.”
For more information, check out their work on their website.
Check them out at The 2022 Kensington Derby and Arts Festival on May 14!