Tommie Smith (center).
A half century before NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee, Olympic gold-medal sprinter Tommie Smith raised a gloved fist. Smith made his historic gesture at the 1968 Summer Olympic Games in Mexico City to protest human rights abuses around the world and bring international attention to the struggle for civil rights in the United States. His act of protest, and its reverberations over the past 50 years, are explored in “With Drawn Arms: Glenn Kaino and Tommie Smith,” an exhibition organized by the High Museum of Art (Sept. 29, 2018–Jan. 6, 2019).
The exhibition, which will introduce several new works, is the culmination of a multiyear collaboration between Los Angeles–based conceptual artist Glenn Kaino (American, born 1972) and Smith (American, born 1944), who lives in Stone Mountain, Ga. “With Drawn Arms” will feature sculptural installations and drawings by Kaino and Smith, excerpts from an original documentary about Smith’s life and his collaboration with Kaino (directed by Kaino and Afshin Shahidi), objects from the Tommie Smith Archives, and a series of drawings contributed by students from across the United States. By bridging the past and present, the exhibition powerfully resonates in the current moment of reckoning with racial injustice in America.
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