Special to the AmNewsDespite their loss to the New Orleans Pelicans earlier last month, Knicks players and fans got a special treat from award-winning Ghanaian artist, Tafa, who conducted the first ever live painting to take place during a basketball game at the world famous Madison Square Garden.
In just two hours, Tafa produced an electric abstract acrylic painting portrayal of the night’s game in front of thousands of fans and millions more watching at home. The finished piece will be included in the Knicks Bowl auction Feb. 13 benefiting the Garden of Dreams Foundation.
Defining this moment as one of the highlights of his career, Tafa said that the energy from the crowd helped him to finish his piece in such a short time.
Growing up in Ghana, Tafa always knew he wanted to be an artist. His earliest memories of drawing are of his pre-K classmates admiring what he drew and encouraging him to do more.
“When your peers are telling you something you worked on is good, you feel so happy and you just keep doing it,” he said.
After earning a BFA degree from the College of Art, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana, Tafa moved to Harlem to further pursue life as an artist.
With his love for art and sports, Tafa found a way to combine two worlds through his artwork.
“I like painting sports because it’s not just the arena and the people playing—but when Dr. King said, ‘People should be judged by the content of their character,’ to me, sports kind of underlines that because is the purest form of meritocracy,” he said.
Tafa has painted and showcased his work all over the world, including Japan, Europe, Canada and Africa. Some of his paintings have been permanently placed in hospitals, universities and other institutions such as the D.C. Superior Court in Washington, Barclays Bank and the National Museum in Ghana.
With his art taking him around the world and catching the eye of celebrities such as Jamie Foxx and even former President Bill Clinton, Tafa describes all of his experiences as a blessing.
“I’m humbled that people like that like my work,” he said. “I just do the work and it touches people and that really humbles me.”
Inspiration for Tafa’s work isn’t just limited to sports. It also includes the current social and political climates. He’s done pieces on historic civil rights marches and of protests that he’s attended.
Talking to people in the crowd helps influence the direction Tafa wants to take his painting. He explained, “I know what I’m thinking and people in the protest are often thinking the same way, but when you talk to them, they could add something to your consciousness.”
Tafa believes that there will definitely be a change in his art, given the current climate of the country, but can’t say what the outcome will be. “Art is a gift of the spirit,” he said. “Art is just a channel of spiritual expression.”
To learn more about Tafa and his work, visit his site at www.tafagallery.com, and to find out more about the Knicks Bowl auction, visit www.gardenofdreamsfoundation.org.