Albany State University student displays artwork at 2021 NBA All-Star Game

By: Rachel Lawrence

Woody Lofton, an Albany native and sophomore visual and performing arts major at Albany State University (ASU) was recently commissioned by the National Basketball Association (NBA) to create artwork for display as part of NBA All-Star 2021. woody

“Knowing that my work will be displayed in front of millions of people is such an amazing feeling. There is so much positive energy surrounding me and I’m enjoying it. I’m truly thankful for this opportunity,” said Lofton.

Lofton was one of seven students chosen from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to create artwork depicting experiences as HBCU students. “We met with students from several HBCUs with various creative backgrounds and commissioned them to create artwork that authentically expressed their experiences as HBCU students. We selected students with diverse creative styles and interests and challenged them to stay true to their artistic point of view. In the end we received seven distinctive interpretations of HBCU life that are both compelling and informative,” said Gary Mack, Associate Vice President of Creative Strategy, Creative Services at the NBA.

Lofton only had a week to bring his vision to life. When faced with a creative block, he pushed forward and faced the challenge. “Creative blocks can really be stressful, especially under a deadline. I stayed up late thinking and brainstorming as much as possible. I was determined to create, and that desire overcame my circumstances and challenged me as an artist,” said Lofton.

 “Along with the commitment of $3 million from the NBA and NBPA to support HBCUs and communities of color disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, we are thrilled to highlight the vital role of HBCUs and integrate the incredible art and culture from this talented community of students. Bringing the Student Showcase to life at NBA All-Star 2021 with a concentration on art studies has become a craft very close to our hearts as Creative Services team members. The talent and creativity these students have is remarkable and we are so excited to put it on display,” said Janine Dugre, Senior Vice President, Creative Services at the NBA. 

Lofton’s artwork is a digital collage titled “HBCU Experience and Pride,” that tells a story through symbolism and color.

As you view the piece from left to right, you can see the transition from the past to present. The past is reflected through the African necklace, forest silhouette, and Eye of Horus. On the right, you will see many references made to current HBCU culture. Those references include a jersey, basketball silhouette, Black fist, hair pick, and graduation stole. I wanted to highlight sports, social activism, black hair and academic success in HBCU culture today. The focal point in the piece is the white face mask. The face mask is a reference to the pandemic caused by COVID-19. Overall, I wanted to convey the connection between the past and present.  

Lofton created the display using a scanner and Photoshop, and many of the references within the piece were scanned in manually. It included photographs, drawings, paint, and cutouts; all Lofton’s original work. artwork

“I was working nonstop in the studio for hours. I remember while I was creating the collage, there were times where I felt like my body was moving on its own. It was like I had tapped into a different level of creating. After I finished creating the piece, I yelled to the top of lungs in the art studio. In that moment, I knew that I created something special,” Lofton added.

Lofton chose ASU’s visual and performing arts program to be challenged as an artist and to fulfill his goal to keep growing professionally. “I like that there is a lot of versatility in my field. I don’t feel limited. There is always room for growth and that is essential as an artist. I am always being challenged by my professors and other art students. I have truly grown during my time here. It has been a remarkable experience.”

He chose ASU specifically to attend an HBCU, and make a local impact. “ASU is a great place for an artist because you will be challenged in your craft. The art professors are very knowledgeable and enjoy helping students. They want you to succeed as an artist and will help you reach your goals. Its hard work, but it does pay off.”

Lofton shared advice for other aspiring artists pursuing their dreams,

Keep creating. Networking is very important. You never know who you may meet, or who is watching. It is important to do your research. Creating is important, but knowing how to market your art is just as important. There are so many resources out there, use them. Remember to rest; it’s okay. Rest can help prevent creative blocks, exhaustion, and burnouts. Lastly, remain consistent. Consistency is key.

Lofton has a bright future ahead, and plans to become an art professor, own a photography business, and travel the world.