Olympian artist
Cameron Myler (USA)

© Cameron Myler

Cameron Myler’s dream of becoming an Olympian began during her very first ride on a luge sled after the 1980 Olympic Games in Lake Placid. The sport provided her with the welcome challenge of testing her physical and mental limits. Cameron competed in four Olympic Games, won 11 World Cup medals, was National Champion seven times, and had the honour of being elected by her teammates to carry the American flag at the Opening Ceremony at Lillehammer 1994.

As an athlete, Cameron embraced the Olympic values of excellence, friendship and respect, which have continued to guide her professional and personal life. After retiring from sport, Cameron attended law school and practised in New York City for 10 years before joining the faculty of the Tisch Institute for Global Sport at New York University, where her teaching focuses on law and governance.

© Sports Illustrated

While she has always loved the process of creating, Cameron’s artistic endeavours began in earnest when she studied painting at Dartmouth College. She approaches her artistic creations, which now also include photography, textiles and mixed media, with the same passion and commitment that led to her success as an athlete.

Her work has been exhibited at the United Nations, the National Arts Club and the iconic New York Athletic Club, as well as in juried shows and gallery exhibits across the country. Her photos were the inspiration for a ballet called Zoom, which was performed by Dance Alive National Ballet. She delights in finding beauty in the details around her, wherever she is.

© 1998 / IOC / MUNDAY, Stephen

Artworks

Unite
Unite
Unite
“Unite” highlights the unique ability of the Olympic Games to bring together not just the athletes, but the people of the world. It was when I joined the parade of athletes at my first Opening Ceremony that I understood I had become part of something greater than me. The Olympic Games are so much more than just a sporting event. They are a global reminder that sport is a universal connector that can transcend any differences in race, colour, sex, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. “Unite” is a mixed-media work, the foundation of which is a photograph I took in Lake Placid overlooking the lake in winter. “Unite” traces the history of cities that have hosted the Olympic Winter Games and united the world - starting with Chamonix in 1924 and continuing through nearly an entire century up to Beijing this year.
2021 - Cameron Myler
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Inspire
Inspire
Inspire
This work is a reminder that Olympians have the ability to Inspire. It’s not just the extraordinary performances of the athletes who stand on the podium at the Olympic Games that can be a source of inspiration. It’s the commitment, perseverance, hard work, resilience, integrity and joy in effort that athletes embrace in their everyday lives. Each athlete has the opportunity to inspire others by living the Olympic values and setting a good example – whether by lending a helping hand to a competitor who has fallen, raising awareness about the importance of mental health, or volunteering with a non-profit organisation that uses sport to promote social change. A photograph that I took in Lake Placid is the foundation of “Inspire”, which is a mixed-media work. The names of the different winter sports are integrated into the work to recognise all of the athletes who have inspired – and continue to inspire – others.
2021 - Cameron Myler
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Believe
Believe
Believe
If there’s one word that captures the magic of the Olympic Winter Games for me, it’s “Believe”. It evokes the feeling of what it means to be an Olympian, and what role belief plays in our journeys. It’s how we must Believe in ourselves; in what we can accomplish on the playing field; in the power of sport to transform our lives; and in using our experiences as Olympians to make positive change in the world. It’s how the Olympic Winter Games can inspire anyone to Believe that the Olympic values of friendship, respect, and excellence apply worldwide; that participating in sport is a human right; and that sport can be used to promote gender equity and to fight discrimination of all kinds. “Believe” is a mixed-media work, which started with a photograph that I took in Lake Placid at the site of the Opening Ceremony of the 1980 Olympic Winter Games.
2021 - Cameron Myler
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Q&A with the artist

  • Q. To you personally, what does being an Olympian mean – how does it define your approach to life and how you view yourself and the world?
    • A. Being an Olympian doesn’t just mean that I participated in the largest sporting event in the world, it’s shorthand for understanding that sport is one of the few things that connects everyone on the planet; being committed to fair play, embracing the values of excellence, friendship and respect, using sport to make positive change in the world. It also meant testing my physical, mental and spiritual limits on a daily basis. It means that I am part of a global family for whom sport is more than just about competitions – it’s a way to bridge differences and find connections.

      The beginning of the understanding of what I had accomplished, what I had become, and the family of Olympic athletes that I had joined, was the moment that I walked into the Opening Ceremony at Calgary 1988. I knew that from that moment on, I would forever be an Olympian and it changed my life. However, it wasn’t until the summer before my last Olympic Games that I really felt like an Olympian. That year I attended the Young Participants Session at the International Olympic Academy in Greece – along with more than 200 other delegates from 100+ countries. The IOA offered me another experience of a lifetime, where I had the opportunity to learn about the history of the Olympic Games, the philosophy of the Olympic Movement, and how my experience was part of a dynamic and evolving transition. I arrived in Olympia an Olympic athlete and left an Olympian.

  • Q. What do the Olympic values mean to you?
    • A. I have always embraced the Olympic values of excellence, friendship and respect, which were guiding principles to me as an athlete. To me, excellence has never meant just being the best on any given day. While I was fortunate enough to stand on the medal podium on a variety of occasions, personal excellence is something I developed on the hard days – working through an injury, struggling to master a curve on a particular track, training on the days that I was tired or just didn’t feel like it, challenging myself to work harder and be better than I ever might have imagined. Although I didn’t win a medal at the Olympic Games, I did my best and gave it my all every time that I got on my sled. I know that I achieved my own personal excellence, which has been a guiding force in all aspects of my life after retiring from competitive sport. The respect I learned though sport – for myself, for my competitors, for everyone who supported me along the way, for the rules – has also dramatically impacted my life. And for me, friendship goes far beyond the individual people I’ve met while I was competing. It’s the magic of athletes from around the world gathering together in one place every four years. It’s the ability to set aside differences, experience other cultures, and interact with people who might have been raised in a country halfway around the world from our hometown, but who are your brothers or sisters nonetheless.

  • Q. How do you explain to people that the Olympic Games are more than the sporting competition?
    • A. I have had so many conversations with people about the Olympic Games being more than just a sport competition! Many of them have never met an Olympic athlete before, so I feel an extra sense of responsibility to explain that the Olympic Games are much more than just the medal count or what happens on the playing field during the 17 days of competition. I describe the impact that participating in the Olympic Games has had on my life and explain that it has nothing to do with what place I finished.

  • Q. If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?
    • A. If I could go back in time, I would remind my younger self to appreciate every moment of the journey. It’s easy to focus on the big goals – making the National Team, winning the National Championships, competing in the Olympic Games, breaking a track record, being the fastest in the world – but those kinds of goals are only reached through daily, weekly, yearly effort and many, many moments of hard work. I competed in luge because I loved the sport – the speed, the challenge of mastering a new track, the exhilaration of the rare perfect run, the travel to countries all around the world (including a few that no longer exist), the opportunity to meet new people, experience new cultures, and expand my world view. Most of the time I appreciated those moments, but being an elite athlete is a full-time job and sometimes it’s difficult to expand your focus beyond the moments of the everyday hard work. I did take note of the amazing experiences I had along the way (which is why I think I would just need to provide a reminder to my younger self) and would not trade a single moment of it.

  • Q. Are there parallels in your approach to your art and your approach to your sport? Or do you find that the two dimensions bring/brought out totally different facets of your personality?
    • A. Luge is one of the fastest Olympic sports and it required an incredible amount of focus, which I was able to achieve by doing everything that I could to prepare and then just relax and be one with the sled and the ice and the curves on the track. It was always my goal to be present in the moment and not worry about how fast my run would be, what times other competitors had posted, whether I was going to win a medal, or how my finish would impact my overall World Cup results. I can still remember one of my runs down the track in Igls, Austria, where I got to the bottom of the track and when I saw that everyone was cheering, I had no idea why. As it turned out, I had broken the track record and couldn’t remember a single thing about my run. Now that’s how being in the moment and being in the flow of things can create amazing moments for an athlete. The creative process is similar for me – I immerse myself in the moment, let the creative energy flow through me, and stand back at the end to see what I’ve created – or what’s been created through me. I find the process of creating to be both meditative and necessary for me to feel balanced.

  • Q. Please feel free to add any other statement you would like to make, about yourself or your passions.
    • A. I have been engaging in what I’m calling “Mindful Making” and using the process of creating art as a means to cultivate a meditative practice. Mental health has been highlighted by many athletes over the past year, and it’s such an important issue for all stakeholders to be aware of – athletes, coaches, parents, fans, sponsors. I was on the road for 14 years when I was on the national team and used knitting as a way to relax. I would love to create a programme that supports athletes by providing them with classes, materials and opportunities to incorporate a “create” practice into their training and preparation.

      I am also passionate about using sport to create positive change. I’m an Athlete Ambassador for Kids Play International, which uses sport to promote gender equity in countries impacted by genocide (we currently have programmes in Rwanda and Cambodia). I’m also an Ambassador for Athlete Ally, which seeks to promote inclusion of the LGBTQ+ community in sport.

      One more – athletes’ transitions from sport to a professional career. It can be such a difficult change to navigate! I’m currently taking a coaching certification course, with the intention of being able to help athletes figure out what’s next and how they can shine even after they’ve retired from sport.

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