Data Summary Public Information Office
By Sophie Colston
The documents retrieved from the Public Information Office centered on the Festival and Dedication Week of May 15, 1960, the ceremonious culmination that followed the extensive new construction and improvements to the Olympic College campus. The documents include: 1) an internal memorandum from the Office of the Dean to the faculty concerning the festival week and dedication exercises, with an attached schedule for the event; 2) the Festival and Dedication Week program; 3) various invitation lists, draft invitation letters, and RSVP notes; 4) a draft of H. V. Blass’ dedication note, the final version of which can be found in the ceremony program; and 5) a letter from the Olympic College Dean. F. C. Kintzer to Professor G. A. Lasiner, Department of Fine arts, Washington State University, thanking Professor Lasiner for use of his artwork during the festival week; includes three article clippings concerning the ceremony (with limited mention of the mural itself).
In the opening paragraph of most versions of the invitation letter sent out to various members of the community, the dedication of Blass’ “magnificent mosaic mural to which he devoted six years of planning and development” is referred to as “an important part of the occasion”. In the reply letter from Dr. L. J. Elias, former Dean of Olympic College, Elias asserts his personal interest in the mural dedication ceremony as well as his role in the inception of the mural since he was “privileged to assist in a minor midwife function when Hank Blass was giving birth to the project.”
The program that was used during the Festival and Dedication Week contains a four-page spread on the dedication of the mosaic. The first of these pages shows a full-length picture of the completed mural, which, although small, shows the impressive intricacy and dynamic visual interest of the mural. The second page is the dedication of the mural to “Veteran Students past, present, and future” as well as acknowledgements, including “the many friends who brought in glass and china to supply the tesserae for use in the mural, Philip Dunn who devised the method used, and the ladies of the Kiwanis for their financial and logistical support. The next two pages contain the dedication note, written by H. V. Blass with the assistance of Thelma Engebretson and Mrs. Charles Ullock. This dedication essay offers more insight as to the possible meaning of the mural and why the Math/Science building is such a fitting location. The note opens with a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s The American Scholar, an essay that explores a person’s function as a scholar and the influences of Nature and the past, among other things, on the mind and education of a scholar. Blass repeats the last line of the quote, which states “all things have two handles: beware of the wrong one,” in order to describe the idea behind the motif of the mural, that man, whatever his accomplishments or place in time, will inevitably have to face dichotomous forces, for example, good and evil. Blass goes on to describe the depictions in the mosaic, beginning with the central pair of hands which “may be thought of as the Hand of the Creator and the Hand of Man.” The surrounding depictions are evocative of the earliest beginnings of life and human history- “the four elements of our ancient civilization, Fire, Earth, Water, and Air,” mythological gods and goddesses, and the “Amoeba and Paramecium, the first living organisms thought to exist…” Blass continues with the description of the visual evolutionary process to the dinosaurs and the ascendancy of man. He concludes by saying that the depicted Zodiac signs are symbolic of the “relentless movement of time uniting all Past, Present, and Future in the Eternal Now.” Blass acknowledges the vast and momentous achievements of man, but cautions to the “Student of Science” to use knowledge wisely with serious contemplation as to the consequences of one’s actions in the future that beckons.