Sport Art: "Homeward" by Clint Thayer Chosen by National Art Museum of Sport

by Deborah Proctor

The National Art Museum of Sport (NAMOS) offers a unique collection of fine art. Like other art museums, many forms of art are represented — from sculpture and paintings to mosaics and of course photography. Yet, unlike many art museums, the focus is on one thing, and one thing only, sport — or more specifically, the ART of sport.   "Art must depict or evoke sports, celebrating athletics or the athlete as a subject, whether individual or team, competitive or recreational, participant or spectator remembered, or studied still life, figurative, or landscape," states their annual competition materials.


Selected as part of the museum's 3rd annualInternational Commitment to Excellence in Art & Sport Competition is"Homeward," a fine art photograph by Clint Thayer, owner of Focal Flame Photography, Madison, Wisconsin. Thayer's work was selected from among hundreds of sport art entries representing 50 sports from 10 countries around the globe. The exhibition runs September 5-21, 2013 at the ArtCenter Manatee in Bradenton, Florida. The opening reception and awards presentation is on Thursday, September 5, from 5-7 pm.

In "Homeward," Thayer uses light and shadow to depict the Trek Midwest cycling team near the end of a long day's journey. This classic black and white sets the mood, while a strikingly simple composition captures the essence of the cyclists' story and draws the viewer into the scene. The description accompanying “Homeward” reads:

Lengthened shadows sweep across the road at the end of a training ride. A cadre of cyclists from the Trek Midwest Team head homeward after hours of drills over asphalt shared with milk trucks visiting dairy farms. Finely tuned to each other’s cadence, the teammates settle into tight formation as defense against the wind. At the top right corner of the frame, one rider trails behind the others. His presence raises questions: was he dropped from the pack? Is he fighting to keep pace with the others, lungs searing and breath ragged with effort of regaining his place? Will he overtake his teammates? Frozen in time, only shadows remain to tell the riders’ story.

When asked why he enters fine art competitions when his primary focus is capturing athletes participating in events such as 5K runs, cycling races, and triathlons, Thayer commented, "It's important to challenge oneself.  I believe artists need to push past the boundaries of known risks and open ourselves to a higher degree of possible failure...With my camera,...I have an opportunity to welcome an audience into a scene where the known and unknown provide a rich environment for the story...How could I not submit?"

Thayer feels it is an honor to be among the artists that represent"some of the best our generation has to offer." NAMOS obviously recognizes Thayer's talent for creating art from sport — his work has been selected as some of the most compelling sport art in the world in the 2nd Annual Competition; in a by-invitation-only Artist for the 2012 NAMOS exhibit entitled Speed and Motion: Racing to the Finish Line, and now the 3rd Annual Competition.

Founded in 1959, NAMOS maintains one of the largest collections of fine art depicting sport in the United States. The museum is dedicated to encouraging artists engaged in the genre, and also to collect, preserve, and share the best examples of sport art NAMOS can acquire. The museum’s first home was in Madison Square Garden in New York. It has been in Indianapolis since 1990 and is currently seeking a new home for its growing permanent collection

About the Photographer:  Clint Thayer’s artistic projects have ranged from following individual athletes throughout months of training, 15-hour Ironman triathlons, and 6-mile ultraswim events to photo essays of speed skaters racing on frozen ponds. He has exhibited and won awards internationally, notably: National Art Museum of Sport, Indianapolis, IN (2011, 2012, 2013); Center for Photography at Madison (2010); Lakeside, OH, Photography Show; Adorama iPhone Photo Contest (2009); and XI Concurso Internacional de Fotografía Apícola.

At Focal Flame Photography, we believe that sport art captures the essence of human perseverance, dedication, and passion. What are your thoughts about sport art? Share them with the Focal Flame community – we’d  love to hear!