The Los Angeles Rams may have had some unexpected help keeping their cool during their thrilling Super Bowl 56 victory last Sunday. The Way of Time (2022), Calida Rawles’s large mural of a Black woman floating happily in a swirl of water, was finished just in time for the game at the new SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California.
The mural is in a public promenade next to the stadium. While Rawles had help preparing the surface and background, she took her brushes to the site to complete the work, her first public art piece. “I was there from 7am to 6pm many days,” she says.
The artist has become renowned for her lyrical, photorealistic renderings of African American figures floating or swimming in water, sometimes solo, sometimes in a duo. One of her paintings is featured in Black American Portraits, an exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (until 17 April).
Rawles took up swimming later in life and finds it a particularly centring experience. “The figure is grounded, strong as the water is moving around her,” Rawles says of the subject of the mural, a friend whom she has always found “regal in the way she holds herself”. In the painting, “the water is moving around her like a clock, and she is the sun, wearing bright yellow," the artist added.
She sees the work as her celebration of the city, where she has had her studio for a decade, and a part of Los Angeles County that is being transformed. That includes the creation of Hollywood Park, the 300-acre mixed -use development in which the stadium sits. "I was thinking about Inglewood, where there’s so much movement, so much change,” Rawles says.
At Frieze, the 7ft-tall preparatory painting for The Way of Time is on view at Lehmann Maupin’s stand, where it sold during the VIP preview for between $175,000 and $250,000.