Feature: Olympian artists create world beyond sports-Xinhua

Feature: Olympian artists create world beyond sports

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2023-04-30 15:24:15

The artworks are showcased in the IOC headquarter (Provided by IOC)

by Sportswriters Shan Lei, Jiang Xuelan

LAUSANNE, Switzerland, April 29 (Xinhua) -- In the world of Olympics, a bunch of athletes showed their talents beyond sports by offering a glimpse of arts, embodying sport, creativity and the Olympic values in their lives.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has been exhibiting 18 pieces of artworks at the Olympic House since April 23, which were created by five Olympians and a Paralympian, to illustrate many facets, interests and stories of the elite athletes.

The IOC Culture and Heritage initiated the program at PyeongChang 2018 and has received more than 50 original works from 16 athletes from eight countries and regions, and there's more to come.

"We realize there are quite a number of Olympians out there who actually have their sporting careers engaged in the arts, and that's a really interesting story because they are individuals with a lot of different interests and talent beyond the sport," said Anja Wodsak, International Programmes Arts and Culture Manager of the Olympic Foundation for Culture and Heritage.

The Culture and Heritage did other two Olympian Artists programs at the Tokyo 2020 and the Beijing 2022, and led a three-month recruitment campaign to lay the groundwork for Paris 2024. As a result, 82 Olympians and 11 Paralympians from 32 different countries and regions have registered.

"Each of these Olympians really draw the parallel between art and sport and how they see it in their lives," Wodsak said. "For a lot of them, the artistic activity is really a form. It's quite similar to some of their physical activity in the way you push yourself. And also it really for some of them was important to find balance."

"When you go to the artistic activity and totally clear your mind, it's interesting. Because it goes back to some of these ideas that can find balance between the body and the mind," she added.

Painter and swimmer Gregory Burns of the United States competed at three Paralympic Games. Talking to the Culture and Heritage, Burns said, "They both require robust mental, physical and spiritual training. They both tap into the passion and sense of awe and wonder when we arrive at an exciting place we have never been before."

Footballer Hannah Wilkinson, who represented New Zealand at three Olympic Games, said, "Being an elite athlete, sometimes the pressure can seep in. When this happens, art is my retreat where I can re-balance myself."

An artwork created by an Olympic athlete (Xinhua/Shan Lei)

"Sometimes we get so wrapped up at athletes and with the pressure of competitions and trying to improve. It's good to remind yourself you're doing this in the first place because you're enjoying it and because it's fun and this was her creative way of expressing that," Wodsak said when she talked about a piece of works submitted by Canadian Alpine skier Laurenne Ross.

Wodsak said Ross, who competed at Sochi 2014 and PyeongChang 2018, is getting an architecture graduate degree. Ross' work debuted at Beijing 2022 - a short video about her time there as an artist-in-residence.

Slovakia's decathlon athletes Slaven Dizdarevic and British javelin thrower Roald Bradstock pursued their passions in track and field and also like to track their Olympic memories with paintings, while Kelly Salchow MacArthur of the United States found her equilibrium through rowing and graphic design.

The disciplines athletes can work with are diverse, from painting and drawing to music and sculpture, photography, graphic design, fashion, performing arts, creative writing and film - most any medium that facilitates creative expression.

"One of the main reasons we made the selection is that we want to show the diverse artistic languages that these Olympians used and give a sense of that breath. They do pursue the activity. They do supply to all of us in a way you never know," Wodsak said.

The Olympians Artists' work can be viewed online as showcased during Beijing 2022 and Tokyo 2020, and the Olympic House exhibition will be displayed through December 2023. 


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