Roots and Wings Glass Art Mural

  • Roots and Wings Glass Art Mural

    Ruth Brockmann, Artist
    For Ridgeline Middle School
    Through Washington State Arts Commission

    Image 1This has always been a very special place because of beautiful Mount Rainier located in Yelm's backyard. All people who settle here did so because of the beauty of the natural environment, the views of the mountain, access to the Nisqually River (the salmon), and the forests and grasslands which sustained them. The name “Yelm” originated from the Indian name "SHELM," meaning shimmering heat waves which came up from the prairie grass when the sun shined hot…radiated by the Great Spirit to make the Earth fruitful. The Nisqually Indian name for Mount Rainier is “TACOBET.” The Great Spirit breathed a spirit into every aspect of nature. Tacobet is a sacred place, home of the spirits. The word means "Mother of Water-Nourishing Breast" or "Mother of All."

    The elk were the first inhabitants of the area, followed by the indigenous people. Yelm was the crossroads of Indian trails. Many people followed the Bald Hill Trail to the Columbia River: early traders with the Hudson’s Bay Company, Spanish seaman, Englishmen, Frenchmen, Kanakas from the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii), the Japanese and Chinese. All these and more walked or rode the historic trails that crossed Yelm Prairie.

    The pioneers came and settled here on the prairie because they saw that the ground was made fertile by the cycles of flooding by the river. They put down roots here and placed their hope in the future of Yelm, nurturing it and making it a home for future generations. Yelm has a proud agricultural history. At one time there were many farms growing filberts, berries and string beans. The soil where the school is now was once an abundant strawberry and blackcap (a small black raspberry) farm. There were many childhood memories planted here and around Mill Pond, the school next door. Today, Yelm is a rapidly growing, productive community with great prospects for a sustainable future. Education is much the same and citizens of Yelm place schools at the hub of their community.
    Image 2
    The city of Yelm is committed to the preservation and conservation of water. They have taken huge steps in protecting the environment by reducing pollution entering the Nisqually River, thus protecting salmon resources.

    Artwork utilizing a River of Life theme has been created depicting the past, the present, and the future. The past is represented by ancestral and historical images as well as returning mature salmon heading home to Yelm. The river of life and salmon journey is a metaphor for the transitions that an individual encounters throughout his or her life. The present is depicted with spawning grounds at home with Mount Rainier/Tacobet in the background.

    The sun rising as a new day is symbolic of higher levels of consciousness, awareness, education and knowledge. Waving grasses reflect the shimmer heat waves that originally gave Yelm its name. In addition, there is a blessing here for the future of the planet Earth. A cast glass Earth is centered within a heart with links trailing around the heart. Below this is a reflective pool for cleansing, rejuvenation and renewal. By drawing closer to nature one becomes in tune with the natural rhythms of life – with harmony and balance. An open heart paves the way for peace and a world connected.

    Throughout the project a viewer will recognize links that are strung together. These links represent our genetic connections and common ties with all of life. Nature is a web of connections, our vital link to the web of life, the links to our ancestry, our present, our future, our eternal continuum.
    Image 3Colorful salmon smolt migrate toward the vast ocean. Reflecting the future, our children stand on a rainbow bridge crossing from the old culture into the new and back again. They reach for their individual stars, reflecting their light source, their purpose. To the right of the rainbow bridge, an eagle flies. We are very fortunate to live with eagles. The Eagle carries the power of flight and clear long distance vision gathering information and knowledge. They have been present as Spirit Guides throughout this project for us.
    We give thanks for all that we have inherited from past generations and for all the gifts of nature. We realize the great potential of our present lives and the hope we have for the next generation, our future – what this artwork and this school are about – to make this world a better place for future generations, to realize their potential, to continue to fly and soar making this world a better place. Our faith has wings. Our children have roots and wings.

    The artwork at Ridgeline Middle School primarily utilizes a combination of fused glass and cast glass. Some of the fused glass is siliconed to painted MDO sign painter’s board. Glazed ceramic “river rocks” were custom made. Finally, the back drop for the project was a mural painting applied directly to the walls.