With My Fist Raised High

At the 1968 Olympic Games, United States gold medal sprinter Tommie Smith raised his fist during the national anthem. Smith, along with bronze medalist John Carlos, was protesting the abuse of human rights in apartheid-era South Africa while displaying a show of solidarity with the struggle for civil rights in the US. Organized as part of the Olympic Project for Human Rights, Smith and Carlos wanted to bring visibility to the oppression faced by many peoples around the world. The clenched or raised fist has been used around the world as a sign to express unity, strength, and resistance. Glenn Kaino has collaborated with Tommie Smith to create several works of art using his iconic fist, which has reignited and sparked change throughout the world. This art activity will use printmaking and repetition, paying homage to Glenn Kaino’s artwork Salute (Lineage) included in Stories of Resistance.

Ages: 6 years to Adults

Time It Takes: 60–90 minutes

What We’re Going To Do:

  • Relief printmaking
  • Repetition of design or element

You’ll Need:

  • Scratch-Foam Soft Surface Printing Board
  • Thick Cardboard
  • Rolling Brayer
  • Acrylic Paints
  • Paper
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Utensil for scratching surface (ex. opposite side of paintbrush, pen)
  • Tray to apply acrylic paint to rolling brayer

Before We Start:
Let’s look at an image or video of Glenn Kaino’s Salute (Lineage). What draws you in? Kaino is an artist who has also trained in magic and illusion, which reminds us that things aren’t necessarily as they seem and can be transformed with our imagination. In this artwork, for example, there appears to be repeated arms of raised fists that go on into infinity. Kaino started by creating a cast of Smith’s clenched fist and arm and then made a sculpture. He then used mirrors to create an illusion that there are many raised fists in the frame. We are reminded of the impact of one, yet magnified by many. The work’s reflective surface invites us to ask where we fit into this lineage, calling us to act.

Glenn Kaino, Salute (Lineage), 2019.

Think About:

  • What words would you use to describe the work?
  • What colors would you use to show power, strength, unity, togetherness?
  • How do repetition and pattern affect an artwork?
  • How can a two-dimensional piece have rhythm and movement?

Art Activity

1. Draw an image of your fist. You can also go to the internet and find an image of a raised fist and print it out. Make your drawing no bigger than the scratchboard.

2. Take a drawing/image and place it on top of the scratchboard. A pencil or pen can be used to go over the drawing. Also, the end of a paintbrush or top of a pen can be used to scratch the board. Be careful not to use a tool that is too sharp.

3. Lift the paper and then look to see the impression that is left. More can be added if you do not like the results.

4. Now cut the fist out on the scratchboard. Then glue the fist to the cardboard. Give it a few minutes to dry.

5. Then cut the cardboard down to mirror the fist, leaving about half an inch width of cardboard around the whole object. 

6. Get your paper out and make sure that you have enough room for the fist to fit the paper. In preparation, you have the option to use a pencil to make a mark where you will line up the scratchboard and where you will print on your paper, a process known as registration. Pick a corner of the scratchboard and mark the paper where you want to place it. So when printing you will line up the marks on the paper with the corner of the scratchboard fist. You can experiment by placing the fist in different areas of the paper by registering or marking the paper. 

7. Take the piece of paper and lay the scratchboard fist on top of the paper. If you are registering, then line up the scratchboard fist with the marks on your paper. 

8. Take a shallow tray and squeeze out acrylic paint. Then take the rolling brayer and roll until the paint has spread evenly over the rolling brayer. Next, apply the rolling brayer to your scratchboard evenly. Another option for if you don’t have a rolling brayer is to use a paintbrush and apply the paint evenly.  

9. With an open hand, apply pressure and press the scratchboard fist onto the paper.  Apply pressure all over the scratchboard fist.

10. Carefully peel the paper off the scratchboard.  

11. Now you have a printed fist. Repeat this step several times to get several printed fists.  Also, experiment with placement and color. Have fun!


  • Repetition
  • Registration
  • Printmaking
  • Illusion

With My Fist Raised High is inspired by Glenn Kaino’s Salute (Lineage).