Atlanta Braves Baseball Drawings, 2017
Airport Art Program at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
In 2016, I was invited to exhibit a series of system-based sports drawings in one of the main atrium areas at the ATL International Airport. ATL has been the busiest airport in America for 18 years in a row. In an effort to engage a transitory, traveling audience passing through a grand, image-filled atrium space, I needed to create an installation of drawings specifically for the context of the space.
To resonate with travelers and continue the tradition of airport exhibitions celebrating the history of their city, I created a series of drawings based on 15 historically relevant Atlanta Braves baseball games. Some of these games included Hank Aaron’s 715 Home Run vs. LA Dodgers in 1974; July 3, 1966, during the Braves’ first year in ATL, when pitcher Tony Cloninger became the first NL player to hit two grand slams in a game; and the Braves’ final game at Turner Field, October 2, 2016.
I created 15 drawings measuring 3.5’ x 5’ on white paper. The drawings utilized bold, energetic lines and colorful ink washes. As opposed to an exhibition space designed for quiet contemplation, these drawings needed to be viewable from a distance or in motion. By maintaining complexity of marks, subtlety, nuance, and conceptual rigor, the compositions also affect travelers with time to explore them more closely. It was intentional to use humble materials, such as ink and pencil, as well as an emphasis on empty space. These large, quiet drawings with modernist aesthetics were meant to juxtapose the visually aggressive atrium space filled with digitally manufactured commercial images and video screens competing for attention.
To make the drawings, I created rule-based systems that became guides for translating the play-by-play events of these baseball games into drawings. Much like visual box scores, the drawings are an abstract translation and record of each game. Curved graphite lines stand for base hits, a fly ball out is a straight line and angle, a double is a wide stripe running top to bottom, a home run is a thick dark blue line across paper, areas of wash represent strikeouts and walks, and errors are bright green line segments. The location and direction of each action is determined by the direction of the baseball in reference to a playing field. At the start, the systems are written on the drawings and the events of the game are then recorded.
Additionally, I created a video documenting my process to communicate the system-based method used to produce the drawings. Using the visual aesthetics of a MLB network broadcast, the video consists of selected events in the game and the correlating drawing activity while simultaneously showing a smaller condensed high-speed version of the entire drawing being made. Accompanying the video display were full-color pamphlets and additional information about the drawings, my art practice, and the Airport Art Program.
Here you can read an essay written Essay by By William C. Agee - Evelyn Kranes Kossak Professor of Art History, Hunter College
August 1, 1978 vs. Cincinnati Reds – Braves snap Pete Rose’s 44-game hitting streak