When Ya La'ford told me she had a new exhibition opening this week, I was expecting paintings. And there are paintings. But the well-known muralist also made sculptures for her Tempus exhibition — one wall sculpture and two aerial sculptures or geometric chandeliers.
“Many people don’t know that I have an interdisciplinary background,” says La'ford.
For La'ford, new materials provide fresh inspiration. Though she’s known as a muralist, La'ford is trained in sculpture, multimedia, video, sound, and painting. It’s never really about the medium itself. It’s about satisfying her fascination with paths of light, La'ford tells me.
Penumbra: Corridor of Ambience is all about paths of light. Penumbra, along with umbra, are words used to describe light and shadow. “Umbra” is literally Latin for “shadow.” It’s what you see when you experience a total eclipse. “Paene” is Latin for “almost.” So a penumbra is an almost shadow. In astronomy, it is a partial eclipse. La'ford named the exhibition Penumbra with “the idea of playing with the universe.”
As an eclipse throws shadow on the earth’s surface, La'ford’s chandeliers throw unique geometric patterns of light and shadow onto the gallery walls, floor, and ceiling that surround them. When you visit (you’re going to visit, right?), these aerial sculptures with cover you in light and shadow as well, she tells me.
“I really wanted to position people physically for the viewers to activate the space and experience a dynamic range of emotions, memories, and reflection,” says La'ford. People get on a plane and travel 17 hours to make memories and experience a sense of wonder, La'ford tells me. La'ford hopes to create this type of awe-inspiring experience right here in Tampa.
“Tempus Projects built me the wall so I could create this surrounding environment,” La'ford tells me.
“So it’s going to look different then, from when I normally walk in Tempus?” I ask her.
“It’s going to look really different,” says La'ford, “It’s a very different experience. It’s all about, for me, leaving a memory that can shift your viewpoint. And you can only shift that viewpoint if you change a space so dramatically that it wasn’t what it was ever. And it will never be that way again once I leave.”
Penumbra: Corridor of Ambience — Recent Works by Ya La'ford
Mar. 23-May 3; Opening reception Sat., Mar. 23, 7-9 p.m.
Tempus Project Space, 4636 N. Florida Ave., Tampa, FL