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OCA begins new artist-in-residence program with NYC artist Ya La’ford

By Deann Armes - Special to the Standard-Examiner | Feb 17, 2022

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Ya La'ford is Ogden Contemporary Arts' first artist in residence, a new program launched this year.

Ogden Contemporary Arts launched a new artist-in-residence program this year that invites out-of-state artists to live and create in Ogden for two to three months. In April, the nonprofit organization will welcome its first resident artist, Ya La’ford from the Bronx, a borough of New York City, to Ogden for a two-month stay that will culminate in a solo exhibition at OCA Center in June.

“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,” said OCA Executive Director Venessa Castagnoli in a media release.

The resident artist will occupy studio space at OCA Center’s second-level lofts and is awarded housing, a living stipend, production budget, artist honorarium and support of OCA staff.

According to Castagnoli, the artists are expected to engage with the community during their residency through events such as open studios, artist talks, and university and youth programming. A solo exhibition at OCA Center and/or a public art piece within the Ogden community will bring the artist’s stay to completion.

La’ford was selected by a committee of creative professionals from across the state for the “impactful aesthetic” of her work and commitment to community engagement that is focused on youth programming.

“We couldn’t have picked a better artist to jump start our program than Ya La’ford,” Castagnoli said. “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.”

A first-generation American, Ya La’ford uses the universal language of art through her work as a painter, installation artist, muralist, social practice artist and educator to connect with her Jamaican heritage and vulnerable communities.

“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,” stated the internationally recognized multimedia artist.

La’ford intends to engage with youth organizations, schools and the local community while exploring Utah’s expansive night skies for inspiration. “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,” La’ford said.

Experiencing Utah’s cultural and physical landscapes will influence La’ford’s vision to transform OCA’s Arts Garage into an exhibition of the artist’s signature geometric labyrinths. The scope of her artistic mediums will be displayed, including painting, sculpture, an interactive installation and video.

The Arts Garage is the main gallery at OCA Center, located in The Monarch at 455 25th St. in Ogden, named after the building’s historic origin as a 1920s industrial parking garage for the neighboring Bigelow Hotel. The multi-use space, which opened in November 2020 after a gift from the Dr. Ezekiel R. & Edna Wattis Dumke Foundation, also includes a digital art room, second-floor gallery space and two artist lofts.

The Lofts Artist-in-Residence program, made possible by Weber County RAMP with support of a Project Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, embraces artists with families and welcomes them to participate with the help of community partners that will ensure a positive experience for the artists and their spouses and/or children.


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