Olympian artist
Laurenne Ross (CAN-USA)

© Laurenne Ross

Born in Alberta, Canada, Laurenne Ross started skiing at the age of two with her father in the Canadian Rockies. She relocated to Oregon with her family in 1995, and made the US Alpine ski team in 2006. Since then, Laurenne has competed in six World Championships and two Olympic Games – Sochi 2014 and PyeongChang 2018.

Alongside sports, Laurenne grew up playing the piano, violin and guitar, and has always been passionate about creating art. She graduated from the University of Oregon in 2020, receiving her Bachelors of Science with a major in fine arts. Laurenne focused on photography, printmaking and ceramics during her time at the University of Oregon, and took her love for art-making around the world while she travelled for ski racing.

© IOC/KASAPOGLU, Mine

Laurenne brings a camera with her everywhere she goes, and is always taking photographs of her surroundings – trying to see the world from a different perspective. She has been shooting with a film camera since she was 10 years old, and continues to practise this form of photography as she finds the arduous process of shooting and developing film an art form filled with magic.

Laurenne has collaborated on many art projects with different companies: Free Range Packs, the US ski team, Shred and Briko helmets, and more. During her travels, she began to work with Adobe programs to create digital art, and is currently working on digital collages using many of her film photographs.

© IOC/MULLAN, Dan

Artworks

Amalgamate
Amalgamate
Amalgamate
This work represents the connection we have to each other as individual athletes. The Olympic Games instil a sense of community and friendship amongst athletes of all nations, and this can be felt in a way that cannot be articulated through words. The rings in all three of my works represent the Olympic rings, as well as the deep connections between athletes. Each athlete in this image is female, and was superimposed onto the background image so as to imply that we become our environments, both as we express ourselves through competition and beyond our philosophical existence as human beings. The tree rings represent the natural world and our relationship to it.
2021 - Laurenne Ross
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Fruition
Fruition
Fruition
This piece is an expression of the joy felt through competition. While we cannot all win our events, there is a certain satisfaction experienced in completing the immense challenge of Olympic competition. Excellence, one of the Olympic values, is always pursued as we compete in our events — although no performance is perfect, the relief and gratification can be achieved regardless. This joy is attained through pursuing our passions, and when we come together to step up to our individual challenges the collective fulfilment is much more delightful. As the world’s top athletes convene in one place every four years, this passion of pursuing excellence can be felt from every dimension.
2021 - Laurenne Ross
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Reminder
Reminder
Reminder
This image is a reminder of the enjoyment in sport. Although our races, games and events can seem intense and momentous, we as athletes are out there on the field of play doing what we love. The colours in this piece are playful and are evocative of the fun and vibrancy of competition. We all began our athletic endeavours in the pursuit of fun; our journeys took us to the pinnacle of sport, and sometimes we need the reminder that we are doing what we love in a beautiful, lively and colourful world. It is also important to note that, as many Winter Olympic events take place outdoors, Winter Olympic athletes all have a deep respect for our environment: the mountains, snow, earth, ice and sky.
2021 - Laurenne Ross
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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 has allowed me to see the world through two sets of eyes: from the perspective of a professional athlete and from the perspective of an artist. My travels as an Olympic skier have inspired much of my artistic work, and allow me to view different cultures from a more balanced and nuanced perspective. It takes hard work to become an Olympian, and bringing that motivation and inspiration from sport into my art shapes who I am as a person.

  • Q. What do the Olympic values mean to you?
    • A. Excellence, friendship and respect are three key values that I try to bring to my everyday life. Overcoming obstacles, together, is an enormous aspect of being an Olympic athlete, and this inspires excellence in all aspects of my life. Friendship is the way I ground myself as an athlete – the relationships I’ve cultivated during my time as an athlete are supportive and incredibly meaningful to me. It takes respect to live with compassion, and the connection between these three values is where I strive to be my best self: for others, for myself, and for the world.

  • Q. How do you explain to people that the Olympic Games are more than the sporting competition?
    • A. The Olympic Games are an incredible opportunity to come together as “one team” from your home country – to root for athletes across all sports, regardless of their background. The Olympics bring people together in such a meaningful way; it is obvious that the Olympic Games are about more than just performance, though that can be hard to see from an outsider’s perspective. The Olympic Games are about ultimately about connection: the way we connect to each other across borders, disciplines and cultures.

  • 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 tell myself to “enjoy the process!” It’s not all about reaching your goals and becoming who you dream of being. Being an athlete is hard work – both mentally and physically – and there is so much joy to be found in the process. Staying present and true to yourself, who you are right now, in this moment, is something I wish I knew when I was younger.

  • 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. Sport and art seem like completely disparate spheres of life, but I have found over the years that they are more connected than we think. Participating in sport allows one to find “flow,” and express oneself in the most authentic form. Art has a similar appeal; in creating art you can find a true state of flow, and express who you are in the moment. Both art and sport embrace goals and dreams: working toward something bigger than yourself. I have found that, during my time as an Olympic athlete, art has allowed me to find some balance and has influenced my sport in some incredible ways. For me, without art, I cannot find true joy in sport. And without sport, I would be unable to find a balanced perspective that I can express through my artwork.

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Olympic Agora Beijing 2022

Olympic Agora - Where Sport Meets Art and Culture

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