The Flair Olympic Statue
The Flair Olympic Statue is situated in the Georgia World Congress Center complex, just east of the Georgia Dome. Artist Richard MacDonald built the sculpture to honor the athletes in the 1996 Olympics which were held in Atlanta. MacDonald gifted the statue to the city and it was dedicated just prior to the opening of the games on July 8, 1996.
Backstory and Context
The intention of the creation of the sculpture is to explore the values of ancient Greece.
"The tradition of art and sport date back to the ancient Olympiads. Athletes were immortalized in sculpture. The ancient Greeks believed in the harmony of the intellect, body and spirit, all acting as one to achieve the fullest potential of the individual. This monument, which I titled "Flair Across America," has all of that1."Indeed, the statue embodies the symbolism and purpose of the Games. According to "Flair Across America," The ring that the gymnast grasps with his hand stands for the hope that unity is within reach for humanity, as well as perfection in all things. The sculpture was created with the purpose of celebrating "dedication, desire, determination" of athletes--and of all people--in the pursuit of excellence1." MacDonald asserts that the sculpture upholds the Olympic credo from father of the modern Olympics, Baron Pierre de Coubertin: "The essence lies not in the victory, but in the struggle"1. This credo imbues the monument with a special meaning as during the 1996 Olympics, Gymnast Kerri Strug injured her ankle during her first vault to carry the U.S. Women's Gymnastics Team to victory. She needed to vault one more time to secure the team's chance to compete for the gold medal, and she did it. She vaulted and then landed on both feet, sticking the landing and pulling through for her team, before collapsing onto mat in pain. The Olympics are a time when the world comes together and then it seems as though anything can happen. How apropos is this sculpture!
After the completion of this sculpture, MacDonald with the sculpture would travel from California to Atlanta on a tour to promote the sport of gymnastics and local gymnastics gyms. MacDonald also had the goal of trying to revive national interest in art and art education, specifically children, by exposing the public to the sculpture medium3. The tour included performances by local gymnasts and MacDonald was greeted by enthusiastic crowds of people3. It has been two decades since the creation of the sculpture and the Flair Across America tour, but to celebrate the 20th anniversary according to a press release MacDonald released the 20th Anniversary Commemorative collection of The Gymnast and starting in July 2016, there will be exhibitions of MacDonald's work, featuring the paintings and drawings of The Gymnast4.
"The Lost Decade Of Kurt Thomas Gymnast In Training For Olympic Dream." Chicago Tribunw 20 May 1990. Web. 1 Aug. 2016.
"Flair Across America 1996-2016 Fact Sheet." Flair Across America: Triumph of Human Spirit. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Aug. 2016.
"Flair Across America Press Release." Richard MacDonald Unveils ‘The Gymnast’ Platinum Collection Exhibitions Showcase ‘Flair Across America’ in Sculpture and Original Drawings. Flair Across America, 14 July 2016. Web. 5 Aug. 2016.