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 struggle1. 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.