October 18, 2022 (Tampa Bay, FL) – Local artist Ya Levy La’ford (b. 1979) has been selected for the annual Florida Contemporary exhibit at the Baker Museum in Naples, FL. The selection recognizes compelling visual artists in Florida that demonstrate artistic excellence and stand apart as leaders in the state’s vibrant art scene. Given that the installation happened during the tragic events of Hurricane Ian, La’ford’s exhibit plan has taken a dramatic shift and will be a place to find solace and healing through the beauty of art. The site-specific installation created by La’ford for the 2022-23 iteration of Florida Contemporary is titled VORTEX.
“I offer my love and solidarity to all those affected by the raging winds and floods. Residing in Naples during the hurricane completely changed my plan for this exhibit, VORTEX. I hope the exhibition will be a tribute to the people of Florida and their resilient nature,” says Ya La’ford.
La’ford is known for her bold geometric installations, built with a unique vocabulary of intersecting lines and gestural repetition. Her labyrinth patterns are both an exploration of self and place, as well as the complexities of the human community.
The VORTEX combines the artist’s work in sculpture, painting (both wall and easel), and prints, all bearing the artist’s signature intersecting lines. La’ford’s work functions on multiple levels. Initially, it engages the viewer in careful observation of pattern and form, including the overlapping shadows created by the three-dimensional elements in the installation. On deeper reflection, her geometric patterns evoke a sense of stillness and tranquility enshrouded within a labyrinth of interconnectivity. This particular installation is inspired by atmospheric physics, geology, astronomy, and fluid motion.
In the wake of Hurricane Ian, these ideas of connection and interdependence are becoming even more relevant to the Southwest Florida community. The artist began this installation in the days leading up to the storm and returned to Naples to complete it after it had passed. Awestruck by the wake of the storm, La’ford delved deeper into the exhibit’s notion of disturbed earth, water, and our environmental intrusions into nature. The works enable viewers to observe and interact with natural processes and capture the mysteriousness of the world around us.
The audio installation loops the sound of Hurricane Ian as it approached La’ford’s place of shelter. La’ford intends for her installations to be places of refuge and reflection for the community, something particularly needed during this challenging time of recovery.
The exhibition will be on view from now through July 16, 2023. The reception is on November 1 at 5 pm. The Artist panel discussion is planned for March 31,2023.
“I am honored to be chosen for the Florida Contemporary exhibit among this incredible group of artists I admire. The warmth of the Florida people inspires and challenges me to find lines that connect us through the visual medium of art and help us unite in times of suffering,” added La’ford. She is based in Tampa and has exhibited her work in the U.S., Europe, Asia, and Africa.
The three artists selected for Florida Contemporary 2022-23 are Edouard Duval-Carrié, Miami; Ya Levy La’ford, Tampa; and Robert Rivers, Maitland. Florida Contemporary 2022-23 is organized by Artis—Naples, The Baker Museum, and is curated by Rangsook Yoon, Ph.D. curator of modern art, and Courtney McNeil, museum director and chief curator.
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 the 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 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 exist 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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