Challenged with the task of artistically interpreting the speed and collective excitement of racing, renowned artist Ya La’ford broke ground at the racing events of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg by becoming the first artist to design a livery car that will run on the track. At the upcoming Indianapolis 500, the artist once again engages racing spectators with a unique, immersive art experience.
The Zen Zone will be a walk-through artist tent for the Indy race car fans that engages the senses through sight and sound. Stepping away from the stimulating environment of the races, La’ford has created a unique space with the Zen Zone that invites the viewers to journey through a series of cyclical geometrical contours that form labyrinths. Layers of sound vibrate throughout portraying the tranquility of being in the “zone” of the driver’s seat.
“There is a fury and intensity to racing, but within that is the aerodynamics of calm through speed. Through the sound design of racing audio effects, strings, synthesizer rhythms, and then the language of the geometric shapes, the Zen Zone is an opening within the race format to feel the peace and harmony that co-exists with the thrill of being in the driver seat,” says La’ford.
The installation is swathed in blue LED luminaires, with the blue being an essential element to the scene. Blue represents truth, wisdom, and tranquility, and in a dream world symbolizes optimism. The immersive art experience becomes dream-like and feels like a portal to another space and time.
As an artist and woman of color, La’Ford finds the intersection of art and fan experiences as opportunities to bridge people together and re-shape the context of how we view ourselves.
“While the Indy 500 isn’t where an artist like me has traditionally been found, I felt my involvement was like a bridge to unite the artistry inherent in the cars’ engineering feats and the diverse history of the industry and global audience. It is something people of all backgrounds can appreciate and admire,” says Ya La’ford.
At the Grand Prix in St. Petersburg last month, the Arrow McLaren SP IndyCar was re-imagined by La’ford with graphic and bold patterns. The race car’s blue and granite designs she created were entangled in specific patterns to replicate the powerful high vibrations that come together during each race.
“Racing is an art form within itself and has a rich history. There is a language to racing, a heat to the sport’s passion, and a radiant love from the fans,” says La’ford
The artist is known for her focus on bold geometric design, symbols, and keywords to create a language that bridges diverse groups through the power of line. She will be designing live art next to the Zen Zone immersive art experience with a work of art titled “The Utopian Race.”
About Ya La’ford
Ya Levy La’ford, was born in New York and resides in historic Kenwood. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Florida State University, a Juris Doctor from University of Florida, and a Masters in Fine Arts from Art Institute of Boston. La’ford maintains her studio practice in St. Petersburg, Washington, DC, and New York. La’ford is a professor, visual painter, installation artist, and muralist. As a first generation American, she moves between her Jamaican heritage and vulnerable communities to try to find a universal language. Her art aims to mobilize citizens to challenge conventional thinking and to understand the intrinsic value of exercising creative license within their communities, and to explore art as a lifelong treasure. Ya La’ford’s mission is centered on creating art and experiences, which exists to immeasurably transform and revolutionize the social, cultural and historic contexts of creative expression within the human journey. For more information on the artist, please visit www.yalaford.com
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