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YARD OLYMPICS : A Nostalgic Celebration of Athletic Optimism


Mandy Mohler : Is a Montana Photographer that creates Fine Art Prints from her "Things Organized Neatly" installations of tools and collections. This blog highlights Behind-The-Scenes looks into the lives of local craftsmen and collectors, as well as adventures and art from her portrait studio.


YARD OLYMPICS : A Nostalgic Celebration of Athletic Optimism

Mandy Mohler

The idea for “Training Day” and my Yard Olympics series came to me as I was floating adrift on the lazy river of our local waterpark. The iconic blue of chlorinated water, hot summer air, and perfect turquoise skies took me back to the summers of my childhood, swimming in lakes and participating in backyard shenanigans.

This work is “a nostalgic celebration of athletic optimism”. Some twenty years ago, out of school in the summer months, my siblings and I had nothing better to do than to snoop around the property. We would discover Dad’s retro recreational equipment in the shed and take to short bursts of “intense” training. During our routines we held fast to naive fantasies of an olympic future.

The hilarious part of it all was the quaintness of my “training” - and how I led myself to believe I was really “getting after it”. Running full blast down our gravel road for a minute and a half - I would convince myself that I just ran a competitive mile. “Well done!” I congratulated myself.

To bring this inspiration to life, I went about collecting vintage objects that brought back these memories of summertime adventures. Many of the objects were sourced directly from my childhood - my father’s roller skates, the old family jump rope that counts your rotations, our old free weights. To fill in the gaps, I set out to find equipment that was similar if not identical to versions from my youth. It was surprisingly easy to find the exact exercise bike and weird springy thing that we trained on as kids.

I can’t time travel to document the past. However, through the use of color and the tidy arrangement of vintage sporting goods I’ve illustrated an era and celebrated an idea of youthful optimism.