This Cultural Olympiad story was produced in partnership with ArtsATL as part of "Atlanta Remembers: The 1996 Olympics," WABE's series on the impact of the 1996 Summer Olympics on Atlanta, 20 years later. For more stories, click here. To read the whole story on ArtsATL, click here.
Michael Phelps. Kerri Strug. Usain Bolt. Gold medals. Gold shoes. Broken records, broken hearts.
A simple game of word association links "Olympics" to words and images of athletic trials and triumphs on an international stage. But the Olympic Games have always included art.
In the Ancient Greek Games, poets recited original verses dedicated to the victors. Artists painted their portraits. Sculptors carved their likeness in stone. That's like immortalizing Michael Phelps in gleaming marble instead of on a cereal box or with a sandwich chain endorsement deal.
The father of the modern Olympic movement, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, wrote in 1904 that the new Olympic games would “celebrate humankind’s highest achievements in both art and sport.” His concept called for a competition amongst artists called "The Pentathlon of Muses." The competition has since evolved into celebration of arts and culture called a "Cultural Olympiad."
As part of WABE's current look at Atlanta's 1996 Olympic Games, "City Lights" producer Erin Wright and ArtsATL's Laura Relyea examined the establishment and history of the Cultural Olympiad as well as previewed the series' upcoming stories. You can read more on ArtsATL's website.