The Abstract Athlete – Art and Athletics Combined

TAA Collage Header Image

On Friday, Feb. 23, 2018, The Abstract Athlete (TAA) will explore the collision of art, athletics and science through a symposium and art exhibition to showcase the talents of professional athletes, artists and veterans. Founding members of TAA include students in the Master’s of Product Innovation (MPI) program in the da Vinci Center for Innovation at Virginia Commonwealth University, who are currently working to bring world-class artwork displays to Richmond, VA, and beyond. The artwork in their upcoming symposium and art exhibition highlights the balance between creativity and physically rigorous athletic training or high stress careers.

“A lot of times, because of stereotypes, people say artists are on this side, and athletes are over here. We just want to show those people can be together; there’s no real difference between the two,” Lee Wilson, founding member of The Abstract Athlete and da Vinci MPI, said.

The symposium will take place on Friday, Feb. 23, from 1-3 p.m., at The Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center located at 2401 West Leigh St. Tickets are $7.50 for adults and free to students and youth, with part of the proceeds going to the Vernon Davis Foundation.

Vernon Davis Painting

“[The symposium] is open to everyone, and everyone might have different perspective coming into it, but find something valuable. It should transcend gender, age, demographics – these topics and cultural figures should appeal to a wide audience,” Shannon Cowan, founding member of TAA and da Vinci MPI, said.

The event will also feature guest speakers including Vernon Davis of the Washington Redskins and Dr. David Cifu from VCU’s School of Medicine, who will be discussing a range of topics detailing the benefits of arts in sports and the effect creating art has on the mind and body.

Werth Multicolor Painting

Following the symposium, The Abstract Athlete is hosting an art exhibition at the 1708 Gallery, located at 319 West Broad St., from 6-8 p.m. The exhibition focuses on using creativity as exercise for the mind and body, and promotes the idea of daily creative practice for everyone.

“In everyday lives, whether a student, doctor or teacher, you can use these creative practices to provide some benefit whether it be to reduce stress or help with focus,” Cowan said.

Come out Feb. 23 to support these artists and their charitable effort all while learning how to apply creative practices into one’s own life. To learn more about The Abstract Athlete, including the artists, the speakers and their upcoming events, visit or contact Lee Wilson at

Alicia Dietz with exhibition display

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