The TSU Tigerbelles track and field team won over twenty-three Olympic medals, and set over forty world records. The amazing achievements of these African American female athletes were largely overlooked through the fifties, sixties and seventies, even as they defied social norms and racial barriers and transformed the landscape of sports.
In 2022 Nike commissioned AKQA to create a piece of artwork recognizing the perseverance, dedication, grace, and achievements of the Tigerbelles. Nike recognized the incredible talent and achievements of the Tigerbelles athletes despite the lack of recognition they received in the broader sports community.
AKQA reached out to Kevin Pierce and his design company Fish Theory Design to conceive, design and execute the piece. Kevin reached out to us and we provided development and proof-of-concept work, before executing the piece (in collaboration with a team of talented artists and designers – see credits here).
The piece recreates an iconic photograph of the Tigerbelles setting the world indoor record in the 880 relay in June of 1978. The image is represented on a one-inch thick, eight by ten-foot slab of black back-painted acrylic with over twenty-thousand anodized track spikes.
AKQA created the short video above, Never Done Making History, recognizing these amazing women, their achievements, and the execution of this piece of art, which resides at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee.
In 2023, AKQA and Nike were awarded a CLIO Gold Award for this video.