Artist Ya La’ford is a whirlwind of positivity and ideas, dashing to and fro like the unique shattered-glass-like patterns she paints on walls and murals. Involved with several civic arts projects, the affectionate and gregarious artist most recently contributed “The Sunnel” to the SHINE Mural Project. The underground tunnel between Ferg’s Sports Bar and Tropicana Field is now filled with symbols and geometric patterns that pay tribute to the sunrise. When LED lights illuminate the artwork, the interconnecting patterns become even more vivid. The work, she says, is inspired by the Sunshine State. Coincidentally, La’ford is born under the sign of Leo, ruled by the Sun.
CL caught up with La’ford at Birch & Vine at The Birchwood Inn, one of her favorite spots on the St. Pete waterfront. The daughter of an engineer, she grew up with the dual influences of creativity and science and holds a law degree from the University of Florida and an MFA in fine art from the Art Institute of Boston. The daughter of Jamaican immigrants spent her childhood in both Coral Springs, Fla., and New York, and moved to the Tampa Bay area just a couple of years ago, where she teaches communication law and mass media at the University of Tampa and drawing classes at St. Petersburg College.
Where she follows the sun: “I love the inlets of St. Pete Beach. My husband and I watch the sunrise there.”
Favorite dessert: BIRCHWOOD INN’s Bananas Foster Cheesecake.
Other favorite St. Pete spots: LA V for their “fresh and delicious” wraps; SOUZOU FUSION for sushi; BANYAN CAFE & CATERING, HOOKER TEA COMPANY and PACIUGO GELATO AND CAFE.
Her next teaching gig: The artist/professor/law grad says she is “super-excited” about the new art classes she will teach at the MOREAN ARTS CENTER.
What she did on her summer vacation: She worked on a sculpture in Harlem in July, and just did a public art piece in N.J.
Why the ’Burg: “I love different communities, I love exploring the different climates and natures and cultures.”