Conceived by Utah artist Tom Holdman and former Utah Valley University President Matthew Holland, Roots of Knowledge combines the work, guidance, and study of 40+ professional artists, 26 UVU scholars and hundreds of UVU students. Roots of Knowledge was unveiled as a permanent installation in the Fulton Library – the heart of the campus – on Nov. 18, 2016.



Tom Holdman is invited to create a stained glass mural for BYU library.

Artists begin contemplating design concepts for History of Knowledge and the Written Word.


Tom changes course, approaches UVU with project.

UVSC becomes UVU & Library dedicated on July 1.

UVU Scholar Committee is organized for the project.

Matthew Holland becomes president of Utah Valley University.

Project is renamed Roots of Knowledge.

Cameron Oscarson composes and sketches design layout for columns A-G.

President Holland officially endorses Roots of Knowledge project.

It's proposed that Roots of Knowledge be installed in the student lounge on the west side of the library.

Glass cutting for column A begins.

Column A installed and unveiled at UVU Library.

Columns B and C unveiled at Holdman Studios.

Columns D-O designed.

Columns B, C, D, and E unveiled at UVU.

UVU Library renamed Ira A. and Mary Lou Fulton Library.

Columns P-Z designed and finished.

Library stairs are removed.

Roots of Knowledge unveiled on November 18, 2016.


On November 18, 2016, Roots of Knowledge was unveiled inside the Bingham Gallery at the Fulton Library of Utah Valley University. Roots of Knowledge is a mural of 80 stained glass windows, spanning 47 meters (154 feet) in length and almost 3 meters (9.6 feet) in height. It portrays a chronology of world history from the dawn of life on Earth to the present day, with slight projections into the near future. The windows are organized sequentially, each column showcasing highlights from different eras.

This singular work of art was created by Holdman Studios, a company based in Lehi, Utah that specializes in stained glass. Studio head Tom Holdman first envisioned a series of stained-glass windows portraying the history of knowledge as early as 2005.

Production of Roots of Knowledge officially commenced in 2012. Under the administration of President Matthew Holland, UVU faculty and staff collaborated with the studio to provide an ideal venue on the campus for this unprecedented undertaking. A spacious lounge in the library, facing west, was renovated and wall spaces were remodeled to accommodate the windows as they were prepared at the Lehi studio. Funding for the production and promotion of Roots of Knowledge was facilitated through generous donations from Marc and Deborah Bingham, Ira Fulton, Barbara Barrington Jones, John and Karen Gardner, and many others. The designers, painters, craftsmen, and staff of Holdman studios dedicated countless hours to complete the magnum opus.

The goal of Roots of Knowledge is to narrate the saga of humanity, depicting through the medium of stained-glass innumerable accomplishments that have benefited the world. The people, places, edifices, inventions, artworks, books, and even flora and fauna were specifically chosen by the artists to show the flow of history and the pursuit of knowledge through the ages. All the fields and disciplines of learning, with representations from all corners of the globe, were incorporated to convey this narrative: engineering, exploration, mathematics, chemistry, biology, astronomy, philosophy, theology, statecraft, music, literature, visual arts, and many more.

During development, UVU faculty were regularly consulted to obtain feedback on the artists’ progress and share insights into what could be included to convincingly capture the theme for Roots of Knowledge. Authenticity, along with respect for the past and foreign cultures, was crucial in the conception of the scenes in the windows. When text was placed in the windows, it was inscribed in the original language of the author (i.e., a quotation by Cicero is in Latin), and structures were often designed to resemble an early state of condition (i.e., the Statue of Liberty is a tawny color, its original hue). Using portraits and photos for reference, illustrious figures from history were also shown as accurately as possible: Marco Polo, Benjamin Franklin, Jane Austin, Marie Curie, Albert Einstein, Mahatma Gandhi, Pablo Neruda, etc. However, not all the figures displayed were meant to represent the eminent and powerful. Many figures in Roots of Knowledge characterize ordinary people who also made the wheels of progress turn. Some were modeled after contributors to the production: studio employees, university professors, and donors.

Even before Roots of Knowledge was unveiled, it drew international attention. For months leading up to the project’s completion, Holdman Studios, in conjunction with UVU, hosted a number of visits from local and international news media, including CNN and The Guardian.  A few of the windows were even shipped across the country to the General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen in New York, where they were put on public display from October 12-17, 2016. Another selection of windows was received by experts at Oxford University and the Glaziers Hall in London, England. The windows were then returned home to Orem, Utah for permanent installation just in time for the first public presentation on November 18, 2016.

Immediately after Roots of Knowledge was installed, work commenced to catalog the myriad content of the 80 windows. This was no small task as nearly every window contained at least a dozen images deserving narrative and exposition. Fully documenting the content—and explaining what is portrayed and how it is portrayed—allows the mural to better reach its full potential as an educational tool and artistic showpiece, as well as benefit posterity when individuals approach the windows with questions.

After opening to the public, Roots of Knowledge quickly established itself as a hallmark of Utah Valley University. With its luminous surroundings, the Bingham Gallery has proven one of the most popular venues on campus. Students, campus visitors, and dignitaries arrive daily to view and explore the gallery.

As the art piece is designed to be an instrument for teaching, we encourage teachers from on and off campus to lead their students to Roots of Knowledge. Additional tools are available for teachers who would like to incorporate the windows into their curriculum. Roots of Knowledge DISCOVER is an education program created with the Utah Core Standards in mind.