Inside the Story: 'Roots of Knowledge' project inspired by artist with speech impediment

Inside the Story: 'Roots of Knowledge' project inspired by artist with speech impediment (Photo: KUTV/Tom Chamberlain)

(KUTV) A stained glass window project 10 years in the making is finally wrapping up. But it's only half way done with a deadline in six months.

The process to create just one stained glass window can take months. So times that by 80, and you begin to understand the size of this artwork.

The stained-glass murral is 200 feet long and 10 feet high. Twenty-five artists are working to put together 80,000 pieces of glass.

The "Roots of Knowledge" mural starts at the beginning of time and takes you through the ages and shows the people that changed the world, all the way up until 2016.

"We want people to understand that we are all interconnected," said Gayle Holdman, who works on the team. "We have experiences that complement one another."

The intricate details came from years of research and artifact study. But there are some hidden gems within the mural--like Star Wars, Star Trek or Indiana Jones references.

The "Roots of Knowledge" will be displayed for everyone to see in November at Utah Valley University.

"At UVU we talk a lot about engaged learning, and one of the things I love about this project is this will be the ultimate engaged project," said Matthew Holland, president of Utah Valley University. "Knowledge, art, architecture, poetry, literature, philosophy--it's all right there."

But in order to get the project done, artists are doing to have to work practically around-the-clock. They have 40 more panels to complete by the end of October.

The brains behind "Roots of Knowledge" is artist Tom Holdman. You could almost say the mural tells his story of triumph over weakness.

Holdman has a serious speech impediment. When he was young, he was teased at school because of his stutter.

It got so bad, he feared being called upon in class.

"The things I want to say I'm like, 'Come on, you can spit it out. Why don't you just spit it out?" said Holdman.

Holdman wondered if he would ever amount to anything, but was inspired by his parents and God to go into the stained glass business.

"I chose to speak through the visual arts," he said.

Holdman now runs Holdman Studios, one of th leading stained glass businesses in the world. He has done work on dozens of LDS temples, projects for the Catholic Church, and other faiths.

He hopes to help others with "Roots of Knowledge."

"You can do it. That's what we want," Holdman said. "Be inspired."

"Roots of Knowledge" will be unveiled at UVU's library on November 18th.

The price tag of the project is $2.8 million. They've raised $1.4 million through private donors.

If you want to get involved in the project, visit its website.