Artist in Residence: Ya La’ford


Welcoming Multimedia Artist Ya La’ford for Spring Artist Residency and Solo Exhibition at OCA Center


This April, Ogden Contemporary Arts kicks off its new Artist-in-Residence program with internationally recognized artist Ya La’ford, who is a painter, installation artist, muralist, social practice artist and educator from Bronx, New York. La’ford’s work has been featured in museums, public spaces, galleries, universities, stadiums, and significant private collections across the globe. Currently residing between Florida, Maine, and her Bronx birthplace, La’ford is a first-generation American who uses the power of art as a universal language to connect with vulnerable communities and her Jamaican heritage. La’ford’s two-month residency at OCA begins this April and culminates with an exhibition at the OCA Center this June.

The OCA Lofts Artist-in-Residence program invites out of state artist(s) to live and create in Ogden for two to three months, occupying OCA Center’s second level lofts for their studio practice. The resident is also awarded housing, a living stipend, production budget, artist honorarium and support of OCA staff during their stay. The residency culminates with either a solo exhibition at OCA Center and/or a public art piece within the Ogden community. The program welcomes and embraces artists with families, collaborating with community partners to ensure it is a positive experience for the artist’s spouse and/or children. The program is made possible by Weber County RAMP with support from a Project Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

“The mission of the OCA Lofts Artist-in-Residence program is to provide the time and resources to ignite, inspire, and influence not only the visiting artist, but also our local community,” says OCA Executive Director Venessa Castagnoli. According to Castagnoli, artist residents are expected to engage with the Northern Utah community throughout their stay, including but not limited to university and youth programming, open studios, and artist talks. “We couldn’t have picked a better artist to jump start our program than Ya La’ford,” she says. “La’ford’s work is strongly rooted in the community that surrounds her. She brings ample energy and a joyful personality that is contagious. We are so excited to welcome Ya and her family to Ogden.”

La’ford was chosen from a series of outstanding applicants and selected by committee, whose invited members are creative professionals from across the state. La’ford stood out for her impactful aesthetic and commitment to community engagement, which is centered around youth programming. Her community actions will further develop when she arrives in Ogden this spring, but she intends to engage in meaningful and transformative work with youth organizations and/or schools, while exploring the local culture and Utah’s unique geography – with emphasis on the west’s expansive night skies – for creative inspiration.

While La’ford’s experiences in Utah’s cultural and physical landscapes will impact the direction of her exhibition, her vision is to transform the Arts Garage at OCA Center with a multi-media show that utilizes interactive installation, painting, sculpture, and video. The work will reference the artist’s signature linear and cyclical geometric labyrinths that explore metaphysical relationships between light, sound, and space.

“This residency and engaging with the Utah community is so meaningful to me and my path to demonstrate the interconnectedness of humanity through my creation of art,” states the artist. “The Utah dark skies and our connection to the astrology of the universe, the inspiration found in the massiveness of our planetary growth, and the experimentation that OCA encourages will be exciting to share in the upcoming show.”



Ya La’ford (b. 1979, Bronx, NY) is an artist, educator, and foremost a transporter—working between the visual and the complexities of the human community with layered meanings—through a wide range of media including paint, sculpture, installation, video, and sound. She received her Master of Fine Arts in Interdisciplinary Arts from The Art Institute of Boston and also holds a Juris Doctor from the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law.

As a first-generation American, she moves between her Jamaican heritage and vulnerable communities using the power of art as a universal language. 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.

La’ford’s work can be found in the permanent collections of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Vinik Family Foundation, and Nike. She has notably exhibited at the Tampa Museum of Art, the Orlando Museum of Fine Art, the Asia Contemporary Art Show, Venice Biennale Activation Projects, Yeelen Gallery, and the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art.

Her work can be found as sculpture, installation, mural design, and exterior façades with a focus on the language of geometric design, symbols, and ethnography to recreate the connections of a space and the divine intervention paths that preserve our destinies as individuals and as a community.

Utah – Life Elevated