By Johanna Berg
The mosaic is predominately made of brightly colored glass fragments and small tile pieces. Scattered pieces of broken bottles and shattered china dishes add dimension to the mosaic. Shining copper and gold-colored squares of metal accent the glass and outline important features.
The lower left hand corner (when one faces the mosaic) is the most detailed section, containing several pieces of delicately patterned blue and white china plate pieces and dark blue bottle shards. Along the bottom edge Hank Blass tiled his initials HB. He also placed a small, yellow, porcelain tile about halfway up the mosaic and painted HB on it in black paint.
The middle and the right side of the mosaic lack the detail of the left side. Blass, apparently, was under time pressure to complete the mosaic, and these areas are more generic than the left side. The tiles are more regular and the colors and materials are not as diverse.
Interpretation of Mosaic Images
By Kara Hunter
The mosaic features an array of allegorical figures, each supporting the theme of the past, present, and future of humankind within this piece of artwork. Blass describes his theme as being “the relentless movement of time, whether geological, astronomical, or man’s concept of it.” The figures featured on the mosaic represent the progression of mankind; Progression of Mankind has sometimes been thought to be the name of the mosaic. “Many of the characters depicted are allegorical and therefore, a story is behind much of the picture.”
One of the most significant images of the mosaic is located in the center of the mosaic where two hands hold the symbol of the atom. According to Hank Blass, in a pamphlet description for the unveiling and dedication of the mosaic, the hands in the center of the mosaic represent the hand of God and the hand of man, good and evil, positive and negative forces. One may interpret this image as being a symbol of the power humans have to use the atom for good or for evil.
The right side of the mosaic features the elements of fire, earth, water, and air which are represented through mythological figures such as Apollo, Diana, Poseidon, and Vulcan. Hank Blass describes these ancient goods as the following: Apollo, the god of the sun, light, music, and art; Diana, Goddess of the Moon, the hunt and the eternal female; Poseidon, the God of Water, drawn toward her. Vulcan, the god of Fire, shown cramped within his shrinking shell of the earth (Blass 1959).
The lower, left corner of the mosaic features amoeba and paramecium. According to Miss Thelma Engebretson and Mrs. Charles Ullock of the Kiwanis Club, these figures represent the first living organisms believed to exist on this planet. The progression of evolution continues in the middle left hand portion of the mosaic with images of dinosaurs as well as several images of the progression of humans. Zodiac signs are also incorporated throughout the mosaic representing the past, present, and future of humankind.