From Arthur Ashe to the Williams sisters, public courts have nurtured and built US Open champions. The USTA, in partnership with Chase and our National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL) network, will build upon its shared mission to strengthen communities through tennis and art by restoring five public-court facilities in five markets.
KiiK Create, the artistic duo of Manoela del Pilar Madera Nadal and David Gray Edgerton, recently transformed the public courts at First Serve Miami, a USTA NJTL, into an immersive art experience. USOpen.org caught up with the pair to discuss their art, inspiration and how tennis has influenced their creation.
USOpen.org: What made you want to get involved in this project?
Manoela Madera: So we have previously done artwork that has been interactive. For example, we have painted a half pipe for the Museum of Art Puerto Rico, where we had skaters skate the half pipe. We created immersive mural installations, where people interact with our art work. So when they presented us the opportunity to paint tennis courts, where kids and other people can actually interact and play tennis on the courts, we thought it was an awesome next step for us to work on because we’re just really into the idea of having people be a part of our artwork.
USOpen.org: What inspired you when you were planning your piece?
Gray Edgerton: We love starting with a concept or an idea about what the painting is going to be about when we are first sketching in the design process. I was thinking about tennis, the dimensions of the court, all of our artwork, our site-specific murals and pretty much all of our designs. We always love to design within specific dimensions on the architecture of the building that the mural is going on, so we were inspired by the dimensions of the court itself, all the measurements, and designing off the regulation geometry that the game is played on. It really dictates all the other angles of the way the game is played, forward and back, left and round, the way the ball travels around. So we were thinking about all those paths.
Then I was in my daughter’s bedroom one night, rocking her back to sleep after she had woken up, and I immediately got this idea of infinite love. How that relates to the tennis lingo of Love-15, Love-40. So I immediately got this idea of love infinity, and then designing with heart shapes, and the infinity symbol, and sort of how the game of tennis is played itself. The back and forth, balance and dialogue.
Manoela Madera: Yes, and when you watch the ball go back and forth, it seems like an infinite set. It’s a play on words, as well, but I also wanted to add that our work is a lot about creating this uplifting vibe, high energy, positivity. Here is more literal with the imagery that we’re using, but again it plays into our ongoing theme of love, high vibrations, positivity and uplifting moments, too.
USOpen.org: What do you want to convey with your artwork?
Gray Edgarton: We want our artwork to be uplifting, to give a lot to the viewer. So there’s always bright color, there’s always high contrast, it always has an optical buzz effect. We want to radiate positive energy.
Manoela Madera: A lot of our work now, especially since we’re doing immersive spaces, we see them as human-energy charging stations, where you can go and be immersed in the work and recharge your spirit, recharge your energy.
USOpen.org: Are there feelings you hope to evoke from people when they see your work?
Manoela Madera: A lot of people, especially when we paint in public spaces, they get really enthusiastic when they see us working. We’ve done a lot of work in local communities, and people are always super enthusiastic and love the colors. We’re doing what we think our mission is – getting people excited and happy. Being able to share the artwork with so many people is also what is important for us to kind of break from the stereotypical art. In our industry you have to go to a museum, or you have to go to go to a gallery, kind of making art accessible to other people to be able to participate with it, as well.
USOpen.org: What kind of paint will you be using on the court?
Gray Edgarton: The paint that we’re using is this brand name Plexipave. It’s a pavement paint that sort of has sand in it. It’s a specifically formulated paint for tennis courts, so it’s kind of got a little grit to it. Once it’s painted, it has like a good grip to it for players when they’re playing on top of it.
USOpen.org: Have there been any surprises or challenges that have presented itself in this project?
Gray Edgarton: One of the most exciting things for us about this is that the artwork can really be taken in, as both courts are like a single piece, only from this bird's eye view. We’re really excited to be working with an excellent photographer who’s going to be taking drone images. So to be able to work on something from the ground that will be taken above gives you a different perspective of the artwork. The way you see it from the ground, and the way that you see it from above is completely different.
Manoela Madera: One of the challenges is that the design was made for an aerial view, so when you’re painting it, you know, from the same level, it’s tricky to get your perspective right to make sure the design works. So it has been a little bit of a challenge to transfer the drawing, but in a good way, not in a bad way. Also, just working with a limited color palette, since the colors we are using are limited to tennis-court colors. We’re usually color hunters, using high-intensity colors. Right now, our palette is more tame because of the colors used on the court. So it’s also been a challenge, but a fun challenge. For us, part of creating our work that is site-specific and project-specific is conquering any of these obstacles and embracing the limitations and making them our own, and owning it and making everything work together.
Gray Edgarton: We really like that the artwork itself is made up of colors that are tennis colors, that are these standard-court colors that are recognizable, so it gives another layer to the artwork. It’s like it’s all these different courts coming together into one.
Photo by Jerry Kestel
Follow artists KiiK Create on Instagram @kiikcreate.
Join the conversation using hashtag #USOpenArtCourtsxChase.
Watch the Miami art court reveal live on US Open YouTube, Facebook and Twitter accounts April 14 at 11am ET.