The Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine announced the permanent installation of Bridge (Science of Speed), a major artwork by Los Angeles conceptual artist Glenn Kaino. The piece was created in collaboration with former Olympian Tommie Smith, one of the two sprinters who raised a black-gloved fist on the medal podium at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics in non-violent protest against oppression.
Bridge (Science of Speed) immortalizes this historical moment in a 45-foot wave of gold arms, cast from Smith’s arm and gloved fist. Suspended above the first floor of the school and ascending into the atrium, its presence in the new modern building serves as an indelible symbol of the ongoing fight against injustice of any kind.
“Bridge (Science of Speed) will serve as a reminder to everyone entering the school of the importance of advocating for patients and communities that have been oppressed and marginalized. We feel privileged to provide a home for this remarkable work,” said Mark Schuster, MD, PhD, Founding Dean and Chief Executive Officer of the Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine.
The Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine is wholly committed to the fight for social justice and training physicians to carry that fight forward through concepts of advocacy and leadership, as well as equity, inclusion, and diversity, woven throughout its newly created curriculum. Students will also take a service-learning course where they will contribute to a project co-designed with, and performed in, a federally qualified health center. And, a relatively new field, health systems science, is incorporated into the school’s case-based, integrated sciences curriculum, ensuring that the effects of human interactions and broader systems are embedded in the core learning starting in the first year.
“By immortalizing and replicating Tommie Smith’s iconic gesture of protest, Bridge connects generations of those dedicated to a better future,” Kaino said. “Tommie and I are happy that the Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine will spotlight his sacrifice and intention of fighting for human rights for the medical professionals of tomorrow, who will fight for our lives.”
Glenn Kaino, a prominent conceptual artist based in Los Angeles, is known for transforming conventional materials and forms to poetically reconcile conflicting ideologies as a way to incite change in the world.
The expansive, undulating Bridge has been exhibited at the High Museum in Atlanta, the San Jose Museum of Art as well as in Chicago and Washington D.C. in larger configurations that deeply moved thousands of visitors. Its permanent site-specific placement of 90 arms at the school will serve as an image of continuity between Smith’s protest and the present, of Black Lives Matter and the renewed discussion on race in America.
The piece was introduced to the school’s art committee by Victoria Burns Arts Advisory in 2019. Burns immediately saw the potential of this work to serve as an arresting reminder of the work and sacrifices being made every day to advocate for the underserved and underrepresented.
The school’s collection will also include content-rich pieces by Conrad Egyir, Shirin Neshat, Sandy Rodriguez, Tavares Strachan, Christine Sun Kim, Kehinde Wiley, Hank Willis Thomas, and a portrait of Bernard J. Tyson by Los Angeles-based painter Delfin Finley.
The Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine will welcome its inaugural class of students on Monday, July 27, 2020. The school will also infuse Bridge (Science of Speed), and other artworks throughout the building, directly into its curriculum with a narrative medicine approach, using art as a vehicle for students to reflect deeply on their experience in medical school, and more effectively empathize with their patients’ individual journeys and pursuit of health.