SKYLIGHT: Transmission of Knowledge/ Windows to Justice - CODAworx

SKYLIGHT: Transmission of Knowledge/ Windows to Justice

Client: California State University, Monterey Bay College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Location: Seaside , CA, United States

Completion date: 2019

Artwork budget: $50,000

Project Team


Johanna Poethig

VPA Director

Angelica Muro

Visual and Public Art Department


The light-transmitting oculus opens to the sky. A plant growth pattern forms the dome, a symbol for preserving the environment and sustaining life. Interconnected knotted cords of a Khipu, one of the oldest record-keeping and language devices, are stenciled with a selection of words. Lenses reflect multiple perspectives expressed through photographic and cinematic technologies. A heart is suspended above the flame emanating from the hands of the Dia de los Muertos celebrant. The scales of justice are held by a CSU,Monterey Bay graduate balancing on a tightrope of networked intersectionality that lights up the globe: a steward with sophisticated understanding, engaged in the movements for social equity, studying the paradoxes, taking the risks but always searching for connections. Puzzle pieces stretch out over the landscape signifying that learning is a continual process of fitting the pieces together and taking them apart for further study. Arranged at the corner, marigolds and chrysanthemums symbolize the beauty and cultures we cultivate in the garden together.


State Universities across the country provide education to the greatest numbers of students and are the building blocks of civic society. The new home for the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (CAHSS) at California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) is a confirmation of the continued importance of liberal arts education, both to the campus and to the students the building will serve. Being well-grounded in the liberal arts is necessary to participate in civic life and public debates. An understanding of our culture – how it has changed and how it will continue to evolve – is vital part of being an informed citizen and a wise voter. This public artwork is inspired by these goals and seeks to be part of the education of future generations by its location at the entryway of the new building.


I was selected to work with CAHSS, the architects, and campus community to create the mural. I combined research with CAHSS faculty and charrette sessions with a Mural Project Working group to develop content. The mural was painted with a small team alumni project assistants selected to participate. I met with the planners and designers on site as the building was just starting construction. The lines of the building and position on the landscape inspired the centerpiece and composition into which I composed symbols from the arts, sciences, global studies, language and cultural heritage and history of the College.