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Holdman Studios

Glass Artists Create World-renowned Windows

Breanna Olaveson | Photos by Kevin Kiernan Sep 12, 2019

As a rule, Tom Holdman is not a man of many words.

The glass artist has a profound stutter, and while he has a lot to say, getting the words out has always been a struggle. But thanks to art, he found a way to communicate his big ideas with people around the world.

“They say a picture is worth a thousand words,” Holdman says. “If that’s true, how many words are a thousand pictures worth?”

man and woman standing in a stained glass studio
Tom and Gayle Holdman
Tom and Gayle Holdman working together.
Tom and Gayle Holdman working together.

A Million Words

Holdman founded Holdman Studios in his parents’ garage in the early 1990s. Since then, he and his team have completed more than 1,000 commissioned stained-glass windows on display in Utah libraries; inside dozens of temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, including in Rome, Italy; and the Roots of Knowledge windows at Utah Valley University.

Roots of Knowledge is a stained-glass masterpiece that includes 80 window panes, more than 60,000 individual pieces of glass and is 10 feet high and 200 feet long. It tells the story of human knowledge through the centuries, from prehistoric times to today and took 12 years to complete.

Now that the monumental undertaking is complete, Holdman Studios is starting work on its next big thing. 

Something Even Bigger

Where Roots of Knowledge explores the story of human understanding, Roots of Humanity — Holdman’s next endeavor — seeks to depict the history of human existence. A panorama of stained glass art will portray important historical events, influential people, familiar symbols, and other significant scenes to explore the human family’s shared history. 

Roots of Humanity is an even bigger project than Roots of Knowledge and will encompass an entire building when completed — potentially on the Thanksgiving Point campus in Lehi, Utah — and tell the story of several pillars of human existence, from knowledge and creativity to love and freedom.

“Roots of Humanity is meant to connect individuals and cultures around the globe,” says Gayle Holdman, co-owner of Holdman Studios. “The creative minds of students, scholars and artists from all around the world will contribute to the project in order to fulfill this symbolic role.”

man blowing glass
Tom Holdman demonstrates blowing glass.

Everyone Contributes to Humanity

The project will require hundreds of hours of labor from dozens of people. But the Holdmans believe that the end result will be worth the cost.

“Some people might look at what we do, and the time and financial cost involved, and ask why we don’t build wells in areas with no clean water or contribute to some other humanitarian project,” Gayle Holdman says. “But this is how we contribute. Stained-glass art is what we do. We hope that if someone with the ability and knowledge to build wells or to stop human trafficking or to do something else sees this exhibit, they are inspired to do that. We don’t contribute in the same ways, but we all contribute.”

Financial contributions to the project are welcome and accepted at RootsOfHumanityFoundation.org. Volunteers, especially those with experience in art, design and craftsmanship, are encouraged to contact the studio and arrange to help. And in a project that celebrates human connection, referrals of artists from around the world are hoped for. You can contact Holdman Studios by calling 801-766-4111 or visiting the institute at 3001 North Thanksgiving Way in Lehi, Utah.

glass decor
glass decor in a shop
Tom Holdman's office
stained glass project featuring people
A glass panel from the "Roots of Humanity" project illustrates "Mother Earth."
Tom and Gayle Holdman form glass
Tom and Gayle Holdman form glass.
glass sculpture
handmade glass bowls

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