Jessica Atanas


Stories and storytelling hold an important place in my life, especially in regards to the theatre. My love for the theatre leads me to create worlds as a scenic artist, painting the realms in which an audience loses themselves for a few hours. My fondness for this art form guides me to spend all of my free time learning, through hands on experiences, the skills necessary to make creations that capture an audience’s imagination.

Scenic artistry and design is about knowing craft as well as understanding the play. Faux techniques that help to mimic a variety of materials along with an understanding of different artistic movements and styles are tools that a scenic artist uses to create the scenery for each play. Because of these styles and skills, as well as the wide variety of plays, I am able to fabricate a wide assortment of sets in many different time periods and locations. Using scenic paint, I have produced scenes on ships in the 1930’s, in bedrooms of the 1960’s, in forests, on a New York City street, and inside the frame of a comic strip. The possibilities are endless, and each possibility is an opportunity to try new styles and skills, as well as to generate a work of art that will be used as a smaller component in a more complex work.

Because my sets are simply one element within the larger creation of a single theatrical production, there is a sense of great collaboration. Working with people in every aspect of the industry and cooperating to construct a vision, bouncing ideas around and getting the creative juices flowing, is yet another aspect of my work that I love. I work with other designers, directors, carpenters, lighting designers, electricians, sound engineers, costumers, and actors to achieve a larger, cohesive goal in creating the story of a play. After understanding the requirements for each production, I help to create a set that functions for the play’s intentions, the actors’ needs, the director’s vision, and the audience’s entertainment; all while creating a piece of art that satisfies my own desires as an artist.

I love painting these sets. I love getting paint on my clothing and in my hair, working with large brushes on larger canvases, and feeling exhausted and tired and sore after a day on ladders and scaffolding. I live for the energy and the mess and the sheer scale of the work. I live for that moment when you stand in the audience and face all the hours of work cumulated in a seemingly simple trick of paint that results in a living room or a skyscraper.