St. Petersburg artist will paint an IndyCar at Grand Prix

In a rare collaboration between art and racing culture, St. Petersburg-based artist Ya La’ford will have a presence during the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

She was commissioned by Vuse, which is in a partnership with racing team Arrow Maclaren SP, to create a large scale artwork that commemorates the race and to paint one of their IndyCars live trackside during the Grand Prix.

La’ford said she was given creative freedom. The only stipulation was to use the team’s colors of papaya, blue and black.

“When I think about the art I’m creating, the essence of it is the vibration,” she said, referring to the buzzing sounds and quakes the cars make that reverberate throughout the city.

La’ford explores concepts of time, space and energy through geometric patterns. She found parallels with racing because of the drivers’ need to precisely navigate angles at high rates of speed.

On a large scale canvas, she incorporated shavings of parts of an IndyCar, including radiators and shredded tires. The piece depicts the city with the race route heavily defined in the center. It will be on display at the Tampa Convention Center over the weekend, then will be displayed permanently at the St. Petersburg Museum of History.

Ya La'ford working on a large scale canvas in her St. Petersburg studio.
Ya La’ford working on a large scale canvas in her St. Petersburg studio. [ Courtesy of Ya La’ford ]

La’ford considers the live painting of the IndyCar a piece of performance art. She’ll create a black pattern incorporating crushed black diamonds that represents the drivers’ tracks and turns, against a blue background that reflects the surrounding water and sky.

A rendering of Ya La'ford's design for the IndyCar she will be painting live during the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
A rendering of Ya La’ford’s design for the IndyCar she will be painting live during the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. [ Courtesy of Ya La’ford ]

Her car is the kickoff of a Vuse Design Challenge, intended to inspire other creators to enter to design a car of their own. The work will happen live from 1-4 p.m. Saturday and 1-3 p.m. Sunday at the Ultimate Pit Stop.

La’ford has previously created works for the NFL, the Toronto Blue Jays and the Tampa Bay Rowdies, but this will be the first time she’ll paint during a live sporting event.

“It excites me to have an opportunity to have a different stage to present my work,” she said.

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