At 21, Martiniquaise Anaïa Hoard was selected for the NBA Creator Studies campaign, an artistic project on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the league. She exhibited four of her works in Abu Dhabi, alongside young European and British artists.
A year ago, Anaïa Hoard’s life took a completely different turn. The young woman, of Martinican origin by her mother, was approached by the most famous basketball league in the world: the NBA. “I don’t really know how they discovered me, but probably through my brother. He had posted a video in which I talked about my love for art and my career as a basketball player“, deduces the young woman, in a timid voice. His big brother, Jaylen Hoard is well known in the American League. He integrated the NBA Summer League from Las Vegas in 2021 and played in Portland and Oklahoma.
Anaïa Hoard is surprised when the NBA contacts her. For the 75th anniversary of the American League, the young Martinican is asked to participate in the NBA Creator Series, an artistic campaign that combines basketball and art. She finds herself alongside creators from Greece, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom. “They commissioned me four paintings that reflect the influence of French basketball in the NBA. I chose to make portraits of players who marked this American dream”, she explains.
Anaïa Hoard in front of three of her paintings. Tony Parker (right canvas), Nicolas Batum (center canvas) and Guadeloupean Rudy Gobert (left canvas) are represented.
The young Martinican regularly publishes her paintings on Instagram, portraits of athletes, often basketball players, which she draws in charcoal. It was when Anaïa Hoard posted on her account the portrait of Chris Paul, American NBA player, that she realized the enthusiasm around her: “A friend called me to check my Insta, I went from 400 to 11,000 followers because Chris took my picture on his wall! It was crazy!”
Basically, the basketball player makes art “for pure pleasure, without expecting anything in return”. But his works have been exhibited in Abu Dhabi, on the occasion of the NBA Global Gamesa series of NBA team games. “These are the portraits of Nicolas Batum, Tony Parker, Rudy Gobert and Evan Fournier. It was really nice and cool to see”quickly describes Anaïa Hoard.
“I was born in basketball and I grew up in this atmosphere”, explains the Martiniquaise. In addition to her brother, Anaïa Hoard’s parents are former pro players. But the basketball player explains that it is thanks to Jaylen that she is “return to basketball”. After a stint at INSEP, Anaïa Hoard represents France at the international level: she won gold at the European U-16 championship in 2017 and silver at the U-17 world championship the same year. She then continued her ascent in the United States, at Wake Forest University, where a certain Chris Paul took his first steps. There, the young woman was able to showcase her talents as a basketball player and an artist with a scholarship.
“The memories I have of my basketball years are much more in the friendships than in the performances I produced.”
Back in France, in Montpellier, the 21-year-old Martiniquaise made the choice to turn to art. She confides that she does not remember a precise moment when she started to paint, this passion came at the same time as that for basketball. “Basically, I was pretty wired for art, between dance and drawing. I don’t remember a moment when I started making art, I’ve always had that passion”explains Anaïa Hoard.
Anaïa Hoard draws in charcoal and uses a brush to create the shadows.
With the NBA Creator Series, not only the basketball player is recognized for her talents on the floor, but also for her art. The perfect combo for her.
When we ask Anaïa Hoard three words to define her art, they are not chosen at random. His helping hand with charcoal brought some to tears: “I had the opportunity to offer a portrait to someone close to Kobe Bryant, who had a real connection with him. The moment I offered the painting to him, the person broke down in tears”she remembers.
It was very touching for me, it meant that I master hyper-realism, the “photocopier”, but beyond that, I was able to transcribe emotions, transcribe a soul to the point that it touches the person .
This moment did not escape Vanessa Bryant, the widow of the basketball player who died in a plane crash. “I had a nice message from Vanessa Bryant who complimented me on my work”says the artist with a nervous laugh.
The young woman also moved Nigerian basketball player Chima Moneke during the presentation of his Champions League MVP title last May. “Same, the moment he watched the video of me doing his portrait, he broke down in tears” still surprised Anaïa Hoard. “I cried too, but later in the day.”
After more than a year without professional training, the Martiniquaise would like “go back to his sneakers very soon”. In the meantime, Anaia Hoard is developing a series in oil painting and continues to go back and forth between the United States and France.
♦ Watch Anaia Hoard’s video presented by the NBA Creator Series :