MIAMI – Harlem Globetrotter Maxwell Pearce is premiering his first-ever art exhibition, called “Art of the Athlete,” at the N’Namdi Gallery in Little Haiti.
This is part of the Art of Black initiative created by The Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The idea to create this exhibit came out of an incident that happened to him in early 2020.
“I had a racial experience while giving a live interview,” Pearce said. “A banana was thrown at me. Basically, the implication is that Black people are monkeys. It’s a very egregious, historical trope.”
During the 2020 shutdowns, Maxwell, who is self-taught, found a way to channel those hate-filled messages.
“My response to that was I’m going to make it even more of a teachable moment, that highlights athletes in past and present to use their platform to speak out against injustice,” he said.
The result are powerful mixed-used pieces. Some 12 in all.
“Wilma” pays homage to 1960’s Olympic Sprinting Champion Wilma Rudolph. It’s made out of different colored shoestrings.
She was responsible for the first integrative event in Clarksville, Tennessee.
“Basically the city of Clarksville wanted to have 2 parades for her after she won. She said I am not going to both. I’m going to one and only one if it’s integrated,” Pearce explained.
His Jackie Robinson sculpture is made from baseballs.
“He contributed in so many ways at a time when racism was much more overt. I definitely wanted to honor him properly,” he said.
One 2-sided sculpture made from copper wire is called, “Sports and Politics Don’t Mix.”
On one side you’ll see Mohammed Ali when he knocked out Sonny Listen, below it are articles about athletes taking a stand at that time.
On the other side…”You’ll move into present day which is Colin Kaepernick. Below, I’m highlighting other articles on present-day athletes who have done the same as well,” he said.
“I See Me,” is with Serena Williams and Althea Gibson featuring their silhouettes on the wall shadows. Both Wimbledon champions and both used their voices against social injustice. Althea was a pioneer.
“Serena is on record paying homage to Althea as an inspiration of hers,” he said.
Pearce hopes this exhibit will shed light on an issue that sadly continues to this day.
“I want people to continue to think about the fact that athletes provide a space for people to escape their world issues, and we’re not afforded the luxury of fighting for the real-life issues that we have to deal within return.”
“Art of the Athlete” premieres Friday, December 2nd at the N’Namdi Gallery in Little Haiti for the next 8 weeks.