Artist-in-ATHICA: Sara Hess

March 7-April 7, 2021
Courtside: Installation Project by Artist-in-ATHICA Sara Hess

Open Studio Hours for Drop-In Visits:
– Friday afternoons: 12-5 pm on March 12, 19, 26 and April 2 (12-7pm), 2021
– Third Thursday Art Night: 6-9 PM, March 18, 2021

Streaming Artist Talk: Tuesday, April 6, 7PM. Registration required:

Sara Hess on Her Courtside Project
The work I am proposing will explore the tennis court visually and conceptually. Tennis courts possess a striking visual space, which can serve as a virtual matrix and source of imagery, color, line, geometry, symmetry, and texture or pattern. The physical division of the court by a net elicits ideas of duality, juxtaposition, and opposition, which can also function as a metaphor for the current polarizing political climate. Elements like painted lines and fences create boundaries, which enclose the game and its controlled chaos, but also create a sense of exclusivity and class division. I will explore themes prominent in tennis like inherent honesty, sportsmanship, spectatorship/performance, strategy, and rule-following—which can be tied back to the technical restrictions of traditional art-making.

Tennis players are athletes, and I feel there is a strong correlation between artists and athletes. I hope to draw parallels between playing tennis and making art. The game and the court provoke several different feelings for me. I grew up playing competitive tennis so the space is intimately familiar. I experience nostalgia for my childhood (in learning from my mom), residual resentment as a teenager towards the mental battle of the game, and now, re-discovery.

In this work, I will use the sport’s language, scoring, and vocabulary as guidelines for how to construct images and scenarios within an on-site installation. I also plan to use the geometry and layout of the court to create compositions while collaging, and retroactively through various presentation modes. I’ve created a digital mock-up where I use the existing layout of the tennis court to collage elements of prints, drawings, and digital images. In addition to the mock-up, I am including recent photographs captured while playing tennis at various sites in and around Athens.

My proposal will involve multiple at-home printmaking processes, including relief, monotype, digital and trace monotype. Printed material will be folded into painting, drawing, collage, and sculpture that will then be installed in the gallery. I will be composing works on a wall (that functions as an aerial view of a tennis court), juxtaposing competing images, responding to the court’s geometric lines and boundaries, using tape and drawing material to physically dissect the gallery, and mounting prints and collage on sculptural objects (indicative of tiers in bleachers). The goal of the work is two-part: to come full circle with this formative space that played an integral role in my childhood, connecting personal narrative with an opportunity to critique abstract juxtapositions and ideas; and to create an immersive gallery experience for the viewer that stimulates constructive dialogue about our community through the lens of tennis.

More About Sara Hess
Sara Hess was born and raised in Augusta, Georgia. She is currently living and working in Athens, Georgia as an artist and at a historic cemetery. Sara holds a BFA in Studio Art from the University of Georgia’s Lamar Dodd School of Art where she studied painting and printmaking. Her current studio practice utilizes found objects, printmaking, painting, collage, sculpture, and installation. Through her work and relationship to images and materials, she seeks to pay better attention, increase empathy, engage meaningfully, and negotiate objective and subjective experiences. Sara has exhibited her work regionally and nationally, most recently at Stove Works in Chattanooga, Tennessee and IPCNY (International Print Center New York) in Manhattan, New York.
Instagram: @sarahess1

In 2021, the Artist-In-ATHICA Residency Program is sponsored in part by the Athens Cultural Affairs Commission, The James E. and Betty J. Huffer Foundation, The Georgia Council for the Arts, and The National Endowment for the Arts.