Glenn Kaino: Bridge

Installation view of "Bridge," showing rows of cast arms suspended from cables.

Installation view, With Drawn Arms: Glenn Kaino and Tommie Smith, San José Museum of Art, November 1, 2019-April 5, 2020. Photo: JKA Photography

One of the most memorable images from the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City is the symbolic act of protest by Tommie Smith, winner of the men’s 200-meter race. During the medal ceremony, Smith bowed his head and raised his fist as an assertion of Black solidarity in the fight for human rights. Decades later, artist Glenn Kaino collaborated with Smith to create the monumental sculpture Bridge

Description

Glenn Kaino’s powerful aerial sculpture Bridge is comprised of 200 golden arms hanging from the ceiling of SAAM’s Luce Foundation Center. Each is a casting of the outstretched right arm of Tommie Smith, the American winner of the men’s 200-meter race at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City. During the medal ceremony, Smith bowed his head and raised his black-gloved fist in a symbolic act of protest. Coming at a moment of turmoil in the United States, where public unrest flared over the war in Vietnam, racial discrimination and inequality, and the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, his gesture was an assertion of Black solidarity in the fight for human rights. Echoed by the American bronze medalist John Carlos, it inspired social causes around the world and irrevocably changed Smith’s own life. 

Kaino, a Los Angeles–based conceptual artist, created Bridge (2013-2014) as part of an ongoing collaboration with Smith and as a reflection on the power of the athlete’s gesture about 50 years after it occurred. Nearly 100 feet long, the sculpture reaches both backward and forward, acting as bridge through time and space into the present. It serves as a monument to one person’s action and its aftermath, evoking the ways that even small acts can ripple through time and alter the course of history. 

The installation is organized by Sarah Newman, the James Dicke Curator of Contemporary Art at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

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SAAM Stories

A detail of a sculpture of fiberglass fists painted gold
10/22/2021
Evoking Tommie Smith's legacy through a work of monumental sculpture
Photo of Sarah Newman by John DeWolf.
Sarah Newman
James Dicke Curator of Contemporary Art

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