Our Olympians are artists!
At the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, they will bring the Olympic values to life through art. A first!
They have taken part in the Olympic Games at least once as athletes and they are artists. In PyeongChang, they will not be in contention for a medal, but they will bring the Olympic values to life through art and by coming together with athletes in the Olympic Village. Olympians Alexi Pappas (10 km runner), Roald Bradstock (javelin thrower), Lanny Barnes (biathlete) and Jean-Blaise Evequoz (fencer) are the “Olympian artists” at the XXIII Olympic Winter Games.
For the first time in the history of the Olympic Winter Games, some Olympians who are also artists have been invited to the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Games to be part of the “Olympic Art project” developed by the IOC.
This initiative was set up in the framework of Olympic Agenda 2020, the strategic roadmap for the future of the Olympic Movement, which aims to “further strengthen the blending of sport and culture at the Olympic Games and in-between”.
Four Olympians will celebrate the spirit of Olympism through art with a wider audience via the hashtag #OlympicArt.
Over the course of 17 days, they will be reconnecting with the ideal of Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Games, for whom “the arts and letters, in harmonious combination with sport, shall ensure the greatness of the Olympic Games”.
In PyeongChang, these Olympians will share their creative spirit and experiment with different forms of artistic expression through two projects:
One is a series of short films d’auteur that will be shot on location and blend fiction and reality conceived by Alexi Pappas (a long-distance runner, poet and filmmaker) and partner Jeremy Teicher (a filmmaker and writer). Through the story of a fictional athlete at the Winter Games who has devoted her life to her Olympic dream, the filmmakers embark on a poetic exploration of the Olympic values.
Organized by Olympians for Olympians, the other artistic project consists of a workshop led by three Olympians who are visual artists at Gangneung Olympic Village. Together with athletes, they will collectively complete 15 paintings inspired by the Winter Games, at a rate of one painting per day. The works will be created and shown in the Olympic Village in Gangneung. To join the action, no experience with brush and paint required!
Lights, camera, action! In select Olympic venues with the Olympian Alexi Pappas and the filmmaker Jeremy Teicher
Alexi Pappas competed in the Olympic Games in Rio, setting a national record for Greece in the 10km with a time of 31:36 and is now training for the Games in Tokyo 2020. An elite distance runner, writer and filmmaker, she has been profiled in many magazines. Alexi recently co-wrote, co-directed, and starred in the feature film Tracktown, which was produced with the support from the Sundance Institute and premiered at the 2016 Los Angeles Film Festival.
Jeremy Teicher, is a film writer, director and named one of the "25 New Faces of Independent Film": He co-directed Tracktown with Alexi Pappas. The NYT described his technique as "working in the neorealist style of Satyajit Ray". His first movie Tall as the Baobab, shot in Senegal, had been screened at over 50 film festivals.
During the Games, they will create a series of auteur-style narrative short films that will blend fiction with reality. These episodes or "video postcards" of three minutes each will be framed by an Olympic value. The fictional storyline revolves around a young cross-country skiing athlete (played by Alexi), and a volunteer in the Olympic Village (played by Nick Kroll, an American actor), who cross paths and form an unlikely relationship. They each have transformative experiences at the Games, returning home with a new outlook on life. The short films will each feature a poem voiceover written and performed by Alexi devoted to specific Olympic values and virtues. Athletes will also be invited to volunteer on site to participate in short acting scenes! This poetic exploration of the Olympic values will be available soon after the Games on the IOC's and Alexi's platforms.
While in PyeongChang, Alexi and Jeremy will also produce 10 clips of between 60 to 90 seconds documenting Alexi's real-time adventure as an Olympian artist in residence at these Games but also as an athlete in training. These "making of" will be available every other day on the IOC and Alexi's platforms. They will offer a glimpse into the mind of an Olympian, an unfiltered look into Alexi's creative and athletic process in PyeongChang.
"We will be breaking new ground with this project, allowing all people to experience the Olympic values through an artistic lens film like never before" explains Alexi.
Painting the Olympic values at Gangneung Olympic Village with Roald Broadstock, Lanny Barnes and Jean-Blaise Evequoz
This art initiative is organised by Olympians for Olympians and created and shown in Gangneung Olympic Village during the 2018 Olympic Winter Games.
Olympic athletes using a brush and paint will, collectively, produce 15 paintings, at the rate of one per day. Each individual painting will represent one of the 15 Olympic winter sports. When the 15 paintings are completed and arranged in three rows of five, they will become one painting revealing the Olympic values which are at the heart of this initiative. In addition, there will be one large painting that will be worked on during the entire Games period. For the first time, ever, hundreds of Olympians will come together to create Olympic art!
Three Olympians who are also artists will be working and overseeing this program. Roald Bradstock (a two-time Olympic javelin thrower for Great-Britain), Lanny Barnes (a three-time Olympic biathlete and professional artist from the USA.) and Jean Blaise Evequoz (a Swiss artist who competed in fencing in the 1976 Olympic Games).
Roald Bradstock is a two-time British Olympic javelin thrower (GBR- 1984 & 1988) and an award winning international Olympic sports artist (USA - 2000). He has turned the javelin runway into a fashion runway, wearing hand painted outfits and throwing matching hand painted optical javelins. He holds dozens of "official" and "unofficial" throwing world records for throwing a javelin, golf ball (170 yards), iPod (154 yards) and even a vinyl record (112.10 metres) to name but a few…
Lanny Barnes is a three-time Olympic biathlete and professional artist. She competed in biathlon in the 2006, 2010, & 2014 Olympic Winter Games. She has a twin sister, Tracy, whom she competed with in Turin, Italy, in 2006. Both girls made history when Tracy selflessly gave Lanny her spot on the Sochi 2014 Olympic team after Lanny fell ill and wasn't able to complete all the races. Tracy was given the United Nations UNESCO International Fair Play award and the US Olympic Committee Inspiration Award for her selfless act and for demonstrating true Olympic spirit. Chances are she will give you the spot for painting!
Jean Blaise Evequoz, born in Sion (SUI), is a Swiss fencer and an artist. He won a bronze medal in fencing in the 1976 Olympic Games. He is a professional artist exhibiting all around the world. With the athlete, Al Oerter, he is one of the initiators of the Art of Olympians Association (AOTO), which brings together former Olympic athletes converted to art.
For Roald Bradstock, the instigator of this project, "this collaborative Olympic project will focus on and celebrate the Olympic athlete, giving Olympians an opportunity to show their creative side, discuss Olympic values and ideals, and work together to show unity, community and friendship. This project is about combining the universal languages of sport and art – a project about Olympians, created by Olympians for Olympians."
Inviting artists to the Games
Recommendation 26 of Olympic Agenda 2020, the Olympic Movement's strategic roadmap, is to "further strengthen the blending of sport and culture at the Olympic Games and in-between". One initiative under this recommendation is to invite artists to create original new work during and between different editions of the Olympic Games. During the Olympic Games Rio 2016, three artists were invited: JR, the French photographer Gerald Andal, the digital artist and Tilman Spengler, the writer.
In PyeongChang 2018, for the first time ever, Olympians who are also artists will take up a different challenge: bring the Olympic values to life through art and by coming together with athletes in the Olympic Village.
These art initiatives echo the first fundamental principle laid down in the Olympic Charter: "Olympism is a philosophy of life, exalting and combining in a balanced whole the qualities of body, will and mind. Blending sport with culture and education, Olympism seeks to create a way of life based on the joy of effort, the educational value of good example, social responsibility and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles."
Alexi Pappas is a Greek-American athlete and an award-winning writer and filmmaker.
Alexi competed in the Rio Olympic Games, setting a national record for Greece in the 10km with a time of 31:36, and is now training for Tokyo Games. Alexi has become known around the world for her voice of positivity and confidence, especially for young women: the New York Times named her as one of their "8 Olympians Who've Got Social Media Game" alongside Simone Biles, Usain Bolt, and Ning Zetao. She has been profiled in the New York Times, New York Magazine, NPR, and Rolling Stone. She was featured on the cover of Runner's World Magazine 50th Anniversary issue and was named the face of the "New Boom" in running. The Hollywood Reporter calls her a "hard-to-resist blend of Audrey Hepburn and Joan Cusack."
As a filmmaker, Alexi co-wrote, co-directed, and stars in the feature film Tracktown which was produced with support from the Sundance Institute and premiered at the 2016 Los Angeles Film Festival. Most recently she co-created Speed Goggles, a 5-episode short film series in partnership with Kodak published by the New York Times, with a focus on elite athletes preparing for the Rio Olympics. She is in the process of writing a book of essays with support from one of the top literary agencies in the world, Inkwell Management. She is a "hard-to-resist blend of Audrey Hepburn and Joan Cusack".
Jeremy is a film writer, director, and producer named one of the "25 New Faces of Independent Film" by Filmmaker Magazine.
He co-wrote and co-directed the coming-of-age sports comedy Tracktown with Alexi Pappas with support from the Sundance Institute and the San Francisco Film Society, and this was premiered at the 2016 Los Angeles Film Festival. Jeremy's award-winning first feature film, Tall as the Baobab Tree, was shot on location in rural Senegal several miles from the nearest paved road with a cast of local villagers. It headlined the NYC Human Rights Watch Film Festival and screened at over 50 film festivals before being released by Sundance Artist Services in 2014. Jeremy's distinct directing style blends narrative with documentary techniques and has been compared to legendary filmmakers like Satyajit Ray (by the New York Times), Peter Weir, and Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Even though he is not an Olympian, he is highly inspired in his work, by the Olympic Values, like in Tracktown.
“I want to embrace the Olympic values of respect, friendship and excellence in the execution of this project."
Painting the Olympic values at Gangneung Olympic Village with Roald Broadstock
Roald Bradstock is a two-time British Olympic javelin thrower (GBR- 1984 & 1988) and an award winning international Olympic sports artist (USA – 2000). Bradstock's antics on and off the field have gained a lot of attention in recent years. He has turned the javelin runway into a fashion runway, wearing hand-painted outfits and throwing matching hand painted optical javelins. He holds dozens of "official" and "unofficial" throwing world records for throwing a javelin, golf ball (170 yards), iPod (154 yards) and even a vinyl record (112.10 meters) to name but a few. The videos of his "Performance Art" in competitions and training have millions of views on YouTube ("roald62"). Bradstock's unique artistic style, skill and innovative techniques in his drawings, paintings and collages have gained him international recognition. In 2000 he won the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) Sport Art Competition, and in 2003 Bradstock won the prestigious International Sports Artist of the Year award, given by the United States Sports Academy (USSA) and the American Sports Art Museum and Archives (ASAMA).
In 2005, Bradstock became the first ever Official Artist for USA Track & Field (USAT&F). In 2006 he became a founding member of an international association of Olympian artists called Art of the Olympians (AOTO), founded by four-time consecutive Olympic discus champion and abstract artist Al Oerter. That same year, after pitching multiple proposals and ideas to the London Organising Committee for the (2012) Olympic Games (LOCOG) on how to use sport and art to promote the Olympic Games, he was appointed by the British Government as a Sport and Art Olympic Ambassador for UK's Youth Sport Trust's (YST) 2012 Olympic Legacy Programme. Bradstock has A-Levels in Drawing, Painting and Sculpture and has a Studio Art Degree from the Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas, TX in drawing, painting and printmaking. Since 1996 he has been a full-time professional artist. And since 2000 he has focused exclusively on sport as a subject matter for his artwork and an inspirational source for his ideas, creations and concepts.
Nick KROLL, American actor, plays the role of the volunteer in Alexi Pappas and Jeremy Teicher short film
I like to have big life experiences. And one of the biggest experiences in the world is attending the Olympic Games. And this project, these two people (Alexi and Jeremy), and this specific situation felt like exactly the kind of project that I am immediately drawn to.
Nick Kroll is an actor, writer and producer. He most recently co-created and voices numerous roles on the animated series BIG MOUTH, which has been heralded by the Hollywood Reporter as "sweet, progressive and breathtakingly filthy." The 2nd season will premiere Fall 2018. He recently wrapped productions on MGM's OPERATION FINALE opposite Oscar Isaac and Ben Kingsley and Lionsgate's UNCLE DREW (June 20th) opposite NBA star Kyrie Irving.
In January 2017, he wrapped his Broadway debut with the critical and financial hit show 'Oh, Hello on Broadway' which premiered on Netflix earlier this year. Recent film credits include Jeff Nichols' critically acclaimed film LOVING, Seth Rogen's SAUSAGE PARTY and Illumination's SING. Nick had his own Comedy Central sketch show KROLL SHOW and starred as Ruxin the hit FX show THE LEAGUE.
Born in Sion (SUI), Jean-Blaise, as known as JBE is a Swiss fencer and an artist. He won a bronze medal in fencing at the Montreal 1976 Olympic Games.
After law school, he then decided to become a painter and became a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Florence. With the athlete Al Oerter, he was one of the initiators of the Art of Olympians movement, which brings together former Olympic athletes converted to art. “I never left my Latin motto already at the time of my first training sessions: Mens sana in corpore sano. A healthy mind in a healthy body”.
He never stopped practicing fencing and now he accompanies the talented youngsters in world cups and shoots with young people to stimulate them. “Sport had taught me that talent without work is a dirty mania. I live only for painting, and for me it's a wonderful adventure that continues with the Games, and that allows me to share my passion with the same energy as Olympians”. He is now recognised as a professional artist, he exhibits his art all around the world.
Lanny Barnes is three-time Olympic Biathlete and professional artist. She competed in biathlon in the 2006, 2010, & 2014 Olympic Games.
She has a twin sister, Tracy, whom she competed with in Turin, Italy in 2006. Lanny competed in the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, Canada, where Tracy was the alternate. Lanny posted the best US finish in 16 years for the US women at those Olympic Games and both girls made history and inspired the world when Tracy selflessly gave Lanny her spot on the Sochi, Russia 2014 Olympic team after Lanny fell ill during the final trials and wasn’t able to complete all the races.
Tracy was given the United Nations UNESCO International Fair Play award and the US Olympic Committee Inspiration Award for her selfless act and for demonstrating true Olympic Spirit. Lanny started drawing and painting at an early age and despite very little instruction in art, she became a professional artist in 2000. She specializes in wildlife art in charcoal, but has done everything from still life, to portraits, to sports, to landscapes in every form of media. Art has always been a big passion for Lanny and while training for the Olympic Games she also expanded and grew her talent as an artist. She plans to continue her career as an artist and hopes to one day open her own gallery.
Interview with Alexi Pappas & Jeremy Teicher
Being a part of the Olympics was the most thrilling and wonderful experience, and I am honoured to capture the essence of my experience through my art.
An author-style short film, directed by Jeremy Teicher, starring Alexi Pappas and (second actor tbd). Written by Alexi Pappas & Jeremy Teicher
As a busy elite athlete, when/how did you start doing poetry and films?
AP: I have always enjoyed having an artistic and athletic life, and I find that one pursuit supports the other. I started acting and writing when I was young and found my way to poetry at Dartmouth College, where I wrote my first book of poetry as my senior honours thesis. When I met Jeremy at Dartmouth, he introduced me to the wonderful world of film. Film, which is a very collaborative medium, evoked the same team feeling that I love as an athlete.
How do you balance these activities in your life?
AP: To balance all of my activities, I live by a very planned-out schedule. My training commitments come first, meaning I make sure I am at practice each day, nap 1-2 hours each day, and eat well. Between practices, I work on my creative projects. It also helps me to have a positive attitude, and to remember that everything should feel like a "choice" not a "sacrifice".
What are your first memories of the Olympics?
AP: My first memory of the Olympics was actually when I was six years old and my dad brought me to the 1996 Atlanta Olympics to watch. The coolest part is that I watched an athlete race the marathon who would later become my college coach (Mark Coogan)! I was inspired that day to chase my own Olympic dream.
JT: My first memory is watching the Winter Olympics on television as a kindergartener and dreaming of one day becoming an Olympic skier. When I grew up I decided to chase a different dream instead – making films – and now it’s very exciting for those two dreams to collide in South Korea.
How did you come up with this scenario?
AP: This story idea is inspired by my experience at the 2016 Rio Olympics and also by some of Jeremy’s and my favourite films about growing up and chasing dreams. Being a part of the Olympics was the most thrilling and wonderful experience, and I am honoured to capture the essence of my experience through my art. It is a dream come true to contribute to the growing Olympic Artist in Residence tradition and add my unique perspective as an actual Olympic athlete.
What inspires you as an artist and filmmaker in the Olympics?
AP: For me, the Olympics and filmmaking are uniquely similar experiences. Dreaming of being an Olympian is much like imagining a film project: at first you are the only one who believes in your vision; but in time, the world sees and believes in you too.
What is the message you want to pass along with this project?
AP: The message I'd like to share is that we can all connect to each other, even in the most unlikely scenarios. And even though only a few people can ever actually compete in the Olympics, the Olympic values, dreams and, to an extent, experiences, are for everyone.
How will you explore the Olympic values through this project?
JT: Through each episode, we will weave the Olympic values into the fabric of an engaging narrative story that opens a window onto an experience – the experience of competing in the Olympics – that most people never get to see first-hand. By harnessing the empathy-creating power of narrative film (Roger Ebert once called movies “machines that generate empathy”), we will actually put the audience in the shoes of an Olympic athlete… enabling them to experience the Olympic values for themselves.
And at the end what sparks your creativity?
JT: The great joy and privilege of film-making, for us, is the ability to open windows into highly specific worlds that most people have never seen before – or have heard about, but never seen first-hand.
Thank you !
I believe in potential, not predictions.” “I want to be brave like the first time & wise like the last time all at once.
To follow Alexi’s real-time adventure as an Olympian artist:
Interview with Roald Bradstock
"Art at the Village"
As a former athlete, when/how did you start painting?
I have always been painting, drawing, sculpting and doing photography since I was three or four years old! In April, 2017 I turned 55 and competed in three competitions breaking the British Masters Record six times, the European Masters Record twice and the World Masters Record (M55-59 Age Group) to go with my M50-54 World Masters Record. I am still competing. I have never stopped!
How would you describe yourself? An Olympian first? An artist?
I am an Olympian and an artist. There is no first or second. I cannot separate the two. I am 50/50. I have spent most of my life swinging back and forth. Since recognising and embracing sport and art as one, I am now equal parts artist and athlete. My artistic career focuses on sports and the Olympics, and at the same time, by using my creativity and imagination in my athletic career, I have managed to continue my sport, smashing countless "official" and "unofficial" world records along the way. I am having fun, embracing who I am as an athlete and an artist.
What are your first memories of the Olympics?
In 1968, at age 6, I watched the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games on a tiny 12" black and white television in my parents' kitchen in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, England. I listened to my neighbour, the late great Ron Pickering, commentate (narrate) at his first Olympic Games for the BBC. I watched in awe as Dick Fosbury won the high jump with a new creative, innovative technique (the Fosbury flop) that revolutionised his event. I remember watching Bob Beamon (AOTO graphic artist) smash the world long jump record and win Olympic gold. And I remember watching Al Oerter (AOTO founder and abstract artist) win his fourth consecutive Olympic gold medal in the discus. After watching these amazing creative and artistic athletes I was inspired and knew I wanted to become an Olympian. Little did I know that on my Olympic journey I would cross paths with all these people.
Did your experience in the Games help you in building this project?
As an Olympian I learned to stay focused, set goals and then work towards them. As an athlete and artist, you work with others and communicate for a successful outcome. As an athlete, I had to figure out how to increase my strength, speed and flexibility, improve my performance and work around/through injuries and illnesses. As an artist, I create and solve puzzles, challenge myself and others. My goal is to have a sports mentality by setting goals and then working toward them. I want to embrace the Olympic values of respect, friendship and excellence in the execution of this project. This project is all about inclusion, not exclusion!
How are you going to engage with the athletes?
I want to get the athletes excited about this project and understand this is about them and the Olympic experience, and that it is a way for them to be a part of a historic first, the most number of Olympians to work on a painting and a way, a platform, for them to express their creative side. As the athletes' paint, I want to hear who inspired them on their journey to becoming an Olympian. I want to capture the athletes' first-hand accounts, how excellence, friendship and respect have been used in their own respective Olympic journeys.
What inspires you as an artist in the Olympics?
The athletes, their stories, their performances and the incredible athletic positions they get into for fractions of a second as they compete. I see and feel the energy and movement both on and off the field from the athletes and the spectators.
What do you want to show with these paintings?
I want to celebrate the Olympic athlete and capture what it "feels" like to be an Olympian. Great art for me, whether it's a painting, song or movie, is about capturing and conveying a feeling or an emotion. Often, it's unquantifiable, something you can't quite put your finger on; you just feel it. But the paintings are the second of two parts of this project. They will be the final/end product. The first part of the project is the 15 days' performance(s) that will be photographed and documented throughout from the perspective of both the artists and the athletes.
What is the message you want to pass along with this project?
These paintings combine the two universal languages of sport and art. While we will be documenting who participates in this project, no artist, no athlete, not a single person, will sign any of the paintings. This is a gesture of friendship and respect amongst ourselves, and to show that in this project every Olympian is equal.
How will you explore the Olympic values through this project?
As each participant takes up a paint brush we want to hear who inspired them. We want to hear how they embrace the Olympic values in their lives on and off the field of play. If there is a specific performance or person that an athlete feel represents an Olympic value, we will incorporate the colours of their country's flag, or colours of their uniform when they competed, into the painting.
And at the end what sparks your creativity?
Anything to do with the Olympics inspires me. The athletes, their performances and their stories. Becoming an Olympic athlete fulfilled my lifetime goal - Becoming an Olympic artist fulfilled a lifetime dream.
Interview with Nick Kroll
Is this your first experience at the Olympic Games?
This is my first time actually going to the Olympic Games but I have always loved the Olympics. I can remember watching Debbie Thomas compete for gold in women's figure skating in 1988 and I've been hooked ever since.
What inspires you about the Olympics?
There are very few cultural and/or sporting events that truly capture the whole world's imagination like the Olympics. I love that everyone competing at the Olympics have spent their whole lives training and preparing for this moment.
What made you accept this role?
I loved Alexi and Jeremy's filmed Tracktown. It was beautifully made and inspiring and felt so real. And when I met with them, i just thought these two people are so smart and resourceful and passionate about what they do and how they do it. The exact kind of people I like to collaborate with on any project I get involved in.