"Fire and Water" Montana State University - CODAworx

“Fire and Water” Montana State University

Submitted by Stacia Goodman Mosaics

Client: Montana State University

Location: Bozeman, MT, United States

Completion date: 2021

Artwork budget: $50,000

Project Team

Mosaic Artist

Stacia Goodman

Stacia Goodman Mosaics


Len Goodman

Stacia Goodman Mosaics


This dramatic glass and mirror mosaic column at Montana State University’s new American Indian Hall honors the powerful, intertwining spirits of fire and water within the Native American tradition, as well the significance of the circle. Rather than a wall mosaic, we proposed this 20-foot column at the building’s main entrance, near the sacred ceremonial door (East facing.)

This project was a two-year collaboration with MSU’s native leaders; we simply acted as the conduit of their theme for a building first proposed decades ago. Our process included hiring three Native American student mentees to assist with the week-long installation, and providing a campus lecture. Our use of 98% recycled glass tile also helped this building achieve the highest level of LEED certification and become the only such one in the state of Montana.

Bright, night-time lighting makes the column a glowing beacon in floor-to-ceiling windows.


The goal was to create artwork that truly honored the significance of this new building as a spiritual home for Native students and the larger Native community. Also, in the process, we wanted to engage members of the Native student body.


The was a two-year process, from initial interview to final, grand-ceremonial celebration with government and tribal leaders from across the U.S.

The collaboration included both architectural and project management members, as well as members of the Native Studies Program.

The actual siting of the artwork at the time of installation was delegated to our three, female Native student mentees. We also had them sign their names (English and Native names) on the column, prior to applying the mosaic. And, we asked them to write a time-capsule message, which we inserted into the column's base structure.

Additional Information

During the building's grand opening ceremony, it was wonderful to watch the student mentees take ownership of the artwork. They took turns standing nearby and answering questions from the thousands of people, many proudly wearing their tribal regalia, who showed up to celebrate.