Tamir Hardaway had been living in Montgomery for a couple of months when he drove by an outdoor event at the Urban Dreams Fine Art Center along South Court Street.
Just 13, his life recently had been uprooted when he and his family left their California community and its rich arts and cultural scene to move to Ridgecrest — an area vastly different from the only one Hardaway ever had known.
“It was a major culture shock,” said Hardaway, part of Lanier’s Class of 2021. “It was a change in speed and change in mindset.”
The center, a nonprofit with a mission to offer artists a space to create and share their work, was the type of place Hardaway had been missing.
“It was hard moving here,” he said. “I lost all of my friends, all of my habits. So, seeing a building like this really ignited that flame and has just kept me going as an artist. …
“I came every day for at least a month. … It was refreshing, rejuvenating.”
Over the next four years, Hardaway dedicated himself to building on his artistic talents and establishing a brand to sell his pieces.
He spent his senior year of high school participating in art shows throughout Montgomery and helping with a student mural near City Hall. He made business cards and launched a professional Instagram account.
He uses spray paint for the majority of his work, so he scours yard sales looking for partly used cans. When creating his signature cosmic scenes, he layers on different colors. He’ll use whatever is around to create the design he’s envisioning, like a piece from his little sister’s Barbie house.
When college started to seem out of reach in early spring, Hardaway dug his heels deeper into his artistic dreams, feeling the momentum he was gaining on the scene could make the passion profitable. But, after receiving a scholarship to attend Alabama State University, his desire to learn the business side of his dream, to be a professional artist, became a feasible option.
“I feel like it’s where I’m supposed to be,” he said about ASU, where he plans to pursue a degree in business management. Being close to his family and to the community that has begun to embrace his work seems a perfect fit.
More than all of that, though, art for Hardaway isn’t just about making money.
“I use it as meditation, as therapy,” he said. “It’s always has had a positive effect on my life. It’s not an escape, but a separate median of existence to just free myself spiritually.”
Contact Montgomery Advertiser reporter Krista Johnson at [email protected].