Art of the Olympic Youth

Article excerpt

When we think of the Olympic Games, we think of international athletic competitions, but the Olympic Youth Camp at the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta was so much more. While at the camp the participants elected to take classes in journalism, communications, recreational sports, the performing arts, and the visual arts. Sponsored by Swatch, the Swiss watchmaker, the Olympic Youth Camp at Berry College in Rome, Georgia brought together five hundred young people, ages 16-18, from 157 countries in the cultural exchange program that has been an Olympic tradition since its beginning in 1912. In 1996 the Olympic Youth Camp celebrated the hundredth anniversary of the modern Olympic Games.

Sharing Heritages Through Art

One third of the camp activities involved the performing and visual arts. Activities such as painting, ceramics, and the development of a multi-national mural gave the youth opportunities to share their cultural heritage in visual and symbolic forms. The artists and educators directing the camp activities planned larger-than-life, permanent and portable art pieces as reminders of the camp and Olympic events.

Painting the Olympic Torch

In honor of the Olympic Youth Camp, the Olympic torch traveled through Berry College on its way to the Olympic Stadium sixty-five miles away. To symbolize the torch's presence on campus and serve as a permanent reminder of the torch relay, the young artists designed and painted a 20 x 40' (6.1 x 12.1 m) torch on a college parking lot. The image of the torch was scanned into a computer and gridded. The students drew the torch to scale on the asphalt and used spray paint to add color and texture. The college has vowed to keep the torch freshly painted over the years and plans a reunion of the Olympic Youth Camp in the year 2015 when the youth of the world can again unite in cooperation and friendship.

International Painting Exhibit

Individual projects for the International Painting Exhibition provided the campers an opportunity to express their own feelings and emotions, but also gave them something to take home. They painted with acrylic paint on foam core, which was light enough to carry on an airplane.

Their themes ranged from paintings of their villages or hometowns to their favorite Olympic events. Their artistic responses were very personal images. …