Roots of Knowledge

ROK.5Stained-glass has been used for centuries to beautify sacred buildings and inspire the passing observer. From cathedrals to mosques to temples, stained-glass can be found adorning architecture throughout the world. For residents who live along the Wasatch Front, stained-glass can readily be found in several buildings in several different cities. However, in the coming months, a new facility at Utah Valley University in Orem will feature a stained-glass window display that will be unlike anything else in the world. The Roots of Knowledge project, scheduled to be unveiled in November of 2016, will feature stained-glass panels that will literally tell the story of us.

The Vision

Artist Tom Holdman, owner of Holdman Studios in Lehi, envisioned the potential of this project more than a decade ago. After a meeting with area community and educational leaders at a private event, Tom was asked about his interest in producing a commissioned piece of stained-glass for one of the groups. Tom wanted to make this piece of art something special, so he set out doing research and sketching ideas for the project. What followed was something quite unusual for this artist. Countless ideas began to flow into Tom’s mind and when he was done taking notes and sketching out several ideas, what began as a single stained-glass window, quickly morphed into a profound and unmatched multi-panel stained-glass display. Although that single, commissioned piece of stained-glass art never became a reality, the idea behind the Roots of Knowledge was in place and Tom was determined to act on it.

Through the help of Tom’s team of artists, their dedicated effort, hours of artistic collaboration and a bit of luck, the Roots of Knowledge project slowly began to take shape. Tom knew that he couldn’t do this project alone, so he approached Utah’s largest public university, Utah Valley University.  When asked about their interest in helping Tom make this dream a reality, administrators at UVU jumped at the chance, immediately recognizing the wonderful impact a project of this kind would have on the university. Knowing that more help was needed to fully produce a project of this magnitude, the owners of Roots Media (filmmaker Lee Groberg, and area businessman and attorney, Ross Wolfley) were asked to join the project. With Roots Media acting as the administrative arm of the team, the project was now off the ground and the three groups quickly began to move forward.

The ProjectROK7

The stained-glass display, when completed, will consist of 80 stained-glass panels, measuring almost 10 feet in height and 200 feet in length.  Utah Valley University has designated a specific spot in the annex of the university’s library, planning carefully regarding placement, to allow the panels of the display to be lit by natural light from the west.  The stained-glass wall will flow in a curved pattern, allowing visitors to casually stroll through the display and study each panel of the project.

Visitors to the Roots of Knowledge stained-glass wall display will be able to see the history of man through learning and knowledge, beginning with the Dawn of Man, the Bronze Age, the Age of Enlightenment and Renaissance, the Industrial Age, and the Modern Era.

Every stained-glass panel of this massive project is being produced at Holdman Studios in Lehi, Utah.  Lead artist Tom Holdman, along with fellow artists Cameron Oscarson and Nicholas Lawyer, have sketched, in detail, each panel’s design and placement.  Through countless hours of historical research and collaboration with an academic scholar team from UVU, the team put together a sophisticated display that brings to light the history of the world, illustrating the advancements and achievements of mankind.  Through a large team of artists at Holdman Studios, each panel began to take shape and showcase its beautiful rendition of history and education.  When the final piece of glass is laid in place, the project will feature over 80,000 individual pieces of stained-glass.

A Great EducatioROK.6nal Opportunity

In addition to the daily visitors the wall will invite, UVU students will actively be studying the historical detail within the wall.  This project has been, and will continue to be, folded into university curriculum.  Students majoring in marketing, programming (IT), and education have already participated in several areas, helping to push the project forward.  In fact, over 300 students at UVU have participated in the production of the Roots of Knowledge project.  Going forward, other UVU students will use the stained-glass wall in the course of their studies.  Because each panel of this wall is filled with multiple historical achievements laid out in stunning detail, ancient and modern history students will have plenty of material to comb through and study as the basis of research projects.

However, UVU students will not be the only group able to actively study the detail found within this stunning piece of art.  Visitors to the Roots of Knowledge display will eventually be able to use digital technology to enjoy an interactive experience to aid in their study of the display wall.  Roots Media COO, Ross Wolfley, explained that “a smart phone app is undergoing development wherein once completed, visitors will be able to use the app to help them understand the full historical content of each panel.”  This app will feature tools such as translation capabilities, historical timelines and explanations as to the historical significance of the events found within each panel.  Mr. Wolfley explained that “this will not be just a stained-glass display—it will be a museum!”

The Roots of Knowledge project is being produced through private funding, and thanks to the generous donations of many private groups and individuals, admission to the Roots of Knowledge will be free for all visitors. Once completed, Utah Valley University expects to see thousands of visitors each year to this unique, one of a kind display of history and art. To learn more about this project and to learn how you can “sponsor a piece of glass” please visit

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Written by Clint Wood

Clint is the owner and Executive Editor of Utah Valley Health & Wellness Magazine. Clint has over 15 years of sales and marketing experience and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management as well as a Juris Doctor degree from South Texas College of Law. Clint resides in Cedar Hills with his wife and two children.