The Torch

This mural of cast glass and laser cut aluminum depicts a Puget Sound version of the Prometheus myth.  In Greek mythology Prometheus was the hero who defied the gods to give fire to humanity, which enabled progress and civilization.  There are many other legends from around the world which depict a similar tale in which a hero assists humankind by delivering fire (which results in learning, wisdom and progress).

In this version the hero brings her torch down from Mt. Rainier to give fire (and knowledge) to everyone.  Above her in the sky are constellations of the Puget Sound region (Salmon, a Salish style canoe, and an Eagle (the Eagle also features prominently in the original Prometheus myth)).  Like the constellations above her, the hero is made up of a group of connected stars, as if she has descended from the night sky.  The flame of her torch creates a circle of light, which is filled with images of learning and exploration.  Many of these images relate specifically to the academic traditions of South Puget Sound Community College.

Some of the images which encircle the flame include:

farrier’s tools

an excerpt from Shakespeare’s 107th Sonnet

the molecular structure of water

a head gasket

a transmission valve body

a diesel ring fan

the Copernican galaxy

Euclid’s proof of the Pythagorean Theory

a scientific drawing of Douglas fir cones

circuits from a circuit board

a DNA helix

the Fibonacci spiral

an acetylene torch

a locomotive drive wheel


The surrounding geometry depicts the Tusi couple.  This was a geometrical discovery made by the 13th-century Persian astronomer and mathematician Nasir al-Din al-Tusi in 1247.  Most historians believe that Copernicus knew about this when he developed his version of the solar system in the 1540’s.  This led to the Copernican Revolution, a paradigm shift from the Ptolemaic model of the heavens, which described the cosmos as having Earth stationary at the center of the universe, to the heliocentric model with the Sun at the center of the Solar System.  Like Prometheus, Copernicus took some risk in defying the status quo (although in the end things turned out better for him than they did for Prometheus).



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