Commissioned painting commemorating 20 year achievement -anniversary of Gold Medalist Nancy Hogshead

The Olympics are really thrilling for me, especially watching the women’s sports. I absolutely cried when Gabby Douglas won the ‘all around’ gymnastic gold. Gabby’s mother sacrificed much to give Gabby the opportunity to excel. Their mutual exhilaration was contagious.

Gabby exemplifies for me what so many athletes are about—total dedication of purpose, hard work and sacrifice. I am inspired by these women (and men) because I feel a parallel experience in my art studio. I think what we do is compete with ourselves—first and foremost—always striving to express ourselves, be better at what we love, more insightful, creative—whatever our chosen passions require. At the Olympics, all elements come alive visually in electrifying display.

In watching the games I was reminded of my personal connection with one gold medalist in 2004. I was commissioned to paint a biographical portrait—commemorating the Olympic swimming achievements of Nancy Hogshead—the 20 year anniversary (1984).  The painting includes many visuals of Nancy—childhood images, swimming of course, her face on all kinds of products, shaking President Reagan’s hand and more.

It was definitely a challenge to not make the painting a ‘bulletin board,’ but rather an integration of imagery, storytelling and visual artistry.

Aside from my own alignment with the games, I think it’s important to be aware of the many people who are not able to participate on the global stage. I received this email from Amnesty International just today:

“Sarah Attar made history this morning when she ran in the 800 meter race for Saudi Arabia. It took extraordinary international pressure, but Saudi Arabia finally sent two women athletes to compete in the Olympics for the first time.
Yes — Saudi women can now go for the gold. But they are still denied basic rights like driving a car, enrolling into university, or boarding a flight out of the country without approval from a male guardian.”

We sure never saw any female representatives from Afghanistan !  Maybe next time—hopefully !

5 Comments

  1. Marsha….it takes the personal connection to bring Olympic spirit home. Your mural commission did that for you as an artist. And your blog sharing did that for me! Will watch the closing ceremonies with more awareness of all the dimensions that millions will share… Maybe more minds will open to freeing women the world over!

  2. Thank you Clare for your comment. There are so many challenging frontiers that we as women today (and those women who have preceded us) have met with great skill and passion— on all fronts— in sports, in the arts, in business and on the home front. Sharing our challenges, we inspire and keep each other going !

  3. Nancy Hogshead gave me a very inspiring book—”Awaken the Olympian Within,”(Stories from America’s Greatest Olympic Motivators)compiled by John Naber in 1999. One of her quotes is actually colláged into the OLYMPIC TAPESTRY painting….’Expect the obstacles and embrace the struggle of growing.’ She writes of her own personal struggle as a swimmer and as a woman. Since her victories in 1984, Nancy has been an successful attorney and Professor of law, and a Title IX champion, advancing
    gender equity in athletics.

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