Glass artists aim to make 'most inspiring piece of art glass ever created' for UVU's 75th anniversary

Published: Friday, Feb. 14 2014 2:46 p.m. MST

Glass artist Tom Holdman shows one of the glass panels his studio is creating for Utah Valley University's 75th anniversary celebration in 2017. The glass masterpiece will be part of the library. His works of arts are appreciated worldwide. His creations grace 35 LDS temples, Catholic churches, businesses and private homes.

Alan Neves, Deseret News

LEHI — As part of the 75th anniversary of Utah Valley University, the library will be getting a major facelift.

Glass artist Tom Holdman has been commissioned to create a masterpiece.

The artists at Holdman Studio at Thanksgiving Point have many projects going at one time, but none bigger than the window at the UVU library. A series of 80 panels will come together to create a window that will eventually be 10 feet tall and 200 feet long.

It begins with fire. The creation of glass, an ancient process, fits perfectly with the project titled "The Roots of Knowledge." The artist hopes the project he started working on six years ago will spark conversation.

"How can we inspire a student that they can honestly make a difference in the world?” Holdman asked.

The panels will not only contain glass, but will also have artifacts such as petrified wood, petrified coral, moon rock, stones, fossils and coins from all around the world.

“It’s loosely chronological,” Oscarson said. “We’ve gone to maybe 500 B.C., and we’re expected to go all the way up to 2017, and maybe, you know, kind of show a futuristic ending to that.”

One of the panels features the oldest individual tree in the world — Methuselah, a 4,845-year-old Great Basin bristlecone pine in the White Mountains of California. Other panels will show all of the planets coming together and how Earth was formed.

“Our goal is to create the most inspiring piece of art glass ever created on this earth," Holdman said. “It’s a tall order, I know that, but we are on the path to make it happen.”

It will be an interactive piece. People will be able to click on pictures of the window and get more information about why the artists chose certain elements.

Holdman’s works of art are appreciated worldwide and represent many different techniques in glass. His creations grace 35 temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Catholic churches, businesses and private homes.

"I love the medium of glass, “Holdman said. “There really is nothing else like that feeling. It just speaks."

He understands challenges, meeting one every day as a stutterer.

"The visual arts help me speak to people,” he said. “I have, at times, a very slow tongue."

But what Holdman will bring to life through glass, Cameron Oscarson, the head painter at the studio, drew.

"We want to say these are different cultures all over the world that believe different things, and it’s molded how we think, and we are all connected into a humanity rather than separated into different countries,” Oscarson said.

The windows tell the history of the world.

“We want to say these are different cultures all over the world that believe different things, and it’s molded how we think,” Oscarson said. “And we are all connected into a humanity rather than separated into different countries."

In 2017, UVU will celebrate the 75th anniversary of its inception in 1941 as Central Utah Vocational School. The art glass will be the central part of the celebrations.

"It's a nice idea about how to bring some intellectual oomph to a new campus that had become a university, but it has really sprouted into something this is truly going to be magnificent,” Utah Valley University President Matthew Holland said.

Contributing: Viviane Vo-Duc

Email: cmikita@deseretnews.com

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