The Tampa-based artist Ya La’Ford (above) is having a moment.
Of course, she’s always having a moment — her intricate geometric creations are as familiar to Tampa Bay art aficionados as her own charismatic presence — but now she’s having a national moment: She’s been chosen by the National Football League (NFL) to create this year’s tribute gifts for NFL team owners — all 75 of ’em! Each owner will be presented with SUN-SPHERE, a La’Ford original painting “inspired by the energy of the sport and its power to unify and unite people all over the globe.”
In a statement released today, La’Ford described SUN-SPHERE as “a dramatic geometric abstract tribute created for each NFL team owner that bridges the energizing power of art, sports, and community with the memorable experience of Super Bowl 55 in sunny Tampa Bay.” Drawing on her characteristic fascination with themes of connection, transformation and transcendence, the SUN-SPHERE is meant to highlight “the cyclical relationship with the Super Bowl host city of Tampa, the NFL owners, the fan connection to the athletes, and the relevance of sports in stimulating global unification.”
The practice of presenting a gift to team owners after the Super Bowl has become an NFL tradition. The choice of an African American artist with local connections (albeit one with a national profile) to create the gift this year is right in line with the efforts of the local Super Bowl LV Host Committee to recognize community needs and achievements. LaKendria Robinson, Director of Business Connect & Community Outreach for the Host Committee, and Bemetra Salter Liggins, Chair of the Business Connect Committee, were instrumental in making this opportunity available.
I asked Ya whether it would be possible to get an image of the SUN-SPHERE to run with this article, or whether she’s going to present one of the paintings during the Super Bowl festivities on Sunday.
The answer: No, because she’s not done making them yet!
Seventy-five paintings is… a lot, right?
“It’s huge!” she said. But she’s also feeling “so honored.”
If you want to get a look at other works by Ya La’Ford, her new exhibition, dis-tance, is at HCC Dale Mabry Gallery’s Gallery 221 (across the street from RayJay), and it’s getting raves — as in this eloquent review by the Tampa Bay Times‘s Maggie Duffy.
NFL team owners, you lucked out!