Global Community in Artist Ya La’Ford’s Ogden Contemporary Art Residency


(Courtesy Ya La’Ford)

By Avery Greig, Arts Editor


This April, multimedia artist Ya La’Ford will begin an artist’s residency at Ogden Contemporary Art, and Utahns could not be more excited.

Ya La’Ford: The Artist

With her impressive and multifaceted educational background, including a law degree as well as an MFA, La’Ford’s art manifests upon numerous shapes and sizes. Whether you’ve seen it growing upon murals, exterior facades or sculpture, La’Ford’s artistic thumbprint is distinguishably iconic through its recognizable, almost topographical style. “The abstract geometry patterns that I create, though they have this maze-like intricacy with bold overlapping lines, each installation has this distinct modernness,” La’Ford said.

“I think [my work is] informed by our history, culture and place.” This rings true as La’Ford has lived across the United States and traveled globally. Combined with her background as a first-generation Jamaican, her globality has impacted her art tremendously. “I grew up in the Bronx, and when you’re born in the city, it’s kind of connected to your soul. Everywhere I have traveled … or lived … it’s imprinted on that artwork,” La’Ford said.

La’Ford’s art often centers on community engagement, specifically through inspiring younger generations. “I think that the children really are our future, and I mean that,” La’Ford said. In the past, La’Ford has integrated youth programming with organizations such as the Florida Orchestra and Sarasota Museum. “I have an exhibition called ‘Rooted.’ I have these kids plant a tree which really was the physical manifestation of what it means for me to have an installation enacted through our roots,” La’Ford said. “My aim is always to mobilize citizens and all of humanity.”

An expanse of interconnecting geometry, La’Ford’s art style is a physical outreach on the human experience, especially when based in community. “It’s more of a language that I’ve been creating since I was very young through these geometric designs and symbols,” La’Ford said. Luckily, La’Ford’s artistic language is one that Utahns will very soon speak.

OCA Residency: Western Expansion

“As soon as my mother handed me crayons that were intended for coloring books, I needed a bigger canvas, which was the large, white walls in our home,” La’Ford said. Similarly, La’Ford is illuminated by the expanse of the West, inspiring her plans for the OCA exhibition. “It is such a beautiful honor,” La’Ford said on her residency. “I could not be more honored, humbled and excited.”

La’Ford expressed her excitement in following the foot rails of the west and how that would allow her to connect deeper with a global community while exploring Utah’s boundaries. “Being so close to the Spiral Jetty and to the earthwork that was created by Robert Smithson is going to have a direct impact on the work I create, as well as the Utah dark skies and the connectedness to astrology and the universe and the inspiration that is found through the massiveness of our planetary growth,” La’Ford said.

What to Expect

La’Ford takes to OCA this April and will culminate with a solo exhibition of her work in June. “I plan to transform this exhibition into a multimedia show that utilizes interactive exhibitions and paintings and sculptures and videos and I think the work will really reference linear and cyclical and geometric geometry that will explore the metaphysic relationships that you can only find in the west, with that light and sound and space,” La’Ford said. “I’m so excited about that.”

The OCA Lofts Artist-in-Residence program will allow La’Ford to reside and produce creative work in Utah in addition to creating a public art piece in Ogden. “I am going to be actively engaging with this next generation through this opportunity, and I just hope that the art stands to inspire and provide access to everyone in [the Utah] community.”


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