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Tribute to The Master of Abstraction

“The master of abstraction has died. Our friend Yalanda has died from a car accident.”

– Ian W., Creative Clay Member Artist

 

At Creative Clay

An empty chair in our studio

Where once there was a painter

Powerful and prolific.

Her vibrant colors—

Bright like her eyes

Bright like her smile

Bright, bright, bright

Yalanda Speights was known not only for her amazing artwork, but for her brilliant smile.  Creative Clay member artist Yalanda Speights was injured in a Nov. 24 automobile accident and died Dec. 1 at Bayfront Medical Center. For 16 years as a student in Creative Clay’s Community Arts Program, Yalanda’s smile and bright spirit was a steady and pleasantly predicable presence.

yalanda artwork

I love her, and she was a happy person and she made circles. She ate a good lunch.”

  • Artie M., Creative Clay Member Artist

Her broad-stroked colorful circles transformed blank canvasses and wood blocks into iconic and easily recognizable art that was desired by collectors throughout Tampa Bay. Yalanda was a featured artist throughout the years in Creative Clay’s Good Folk Gallery exhibits. Her preferred tools were colored pencils and watercolor, but she also dabbled in acrylics. She preferred the never-ending shape of the circle as her subject, but to watch her transform a simple object into impactful art was to witness “sophisticated elegance,” an often-indescribable energy and soulfulness.

“She was a very kind person. I liked the way she laughed.”

  • Kim S., Creative Clay Member Artist

The emotions evoked on her canvasses resonated with fellow member artists who were also her friends. Tears and astonishment were the companions to the fitting memories that were shared through stories told and expressions of art that were created in Yalanda’s memory.

Yalanda’s goal was to land a one-person show and sell more of her art, but her work is an enduring gift to the community. One of her large-scale pieces adorns a wall at University of South Florida’s St. Petersburg Campus. Yalanda also sold a large piece of her work to Postcard Inn on St. Pete Beach, and it hung in their lobby for many years, as a bright welcome for visitors as they checked in.

“She always did really nice paintings, and she had a really nice laugh,” said Sheryl L.

yalanda art collage

It is said that the meaning of the circle symbol is universal, sacred and divine. It represents the infinite nature of energy and the inclusivity of the universe. Creative Clay’s vision is one of inclusivity, with a mission of creating arts accessibility for all. Yalanda’s repetitive chosen subject of the circle will forever be a reminder to Creative Clay, the community and her family of our perpetual goal of inclusivity for all. We will be forever grateful for the gift of Yalanda and her message of inclusivity through her art.

“She smiled and was nice to everyone. She was always pretty. She was like a flower. Everyone felt happy when they saw her.”

  • Chris F., Creative Clay Member Artist

The Speights Family and Creative Clay are honoring the memory of Yalanda through the sale of many of her pieces from her collection of paintings. Visit our Good Folk Gallery at 1846 First Ave. S, St. Petersburg, Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to view her work. All proceeds from the sale of Yalanda’s work will benefit the Speights family. In addition, the Speights family has established a Go Fund Me initiative to help offset funeral and hospital costs. Donations may be made at https://www.gofundme.com/in-loving-memory-of-yalanda-treece-speights.


Creative Clay’s vision is to make the arts accessible for all. Our mission is to help people with disabilities achieve full and inclusive lives through access to the arts by providing expressive, educational and vocational experiences.