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About Kirk Library

Kirk Library front desk

Kirk Library is located along Aadland Esplanade, the campus pedestrian mall. The building houses eLearning, the Phoenix Center, which includes the Testing Center for GED, assessment and placement testing, and Transitional Education for adult basic education (ABE), ESL, and high school completion, as well as the Literary Council, classrooms, computer lab, and faculty offices.
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Campus Art

  • Boots to Books memorial
  • Crosscut
  • Ceremonial Mace
  • Mason Murals
  • Hercules Murals

Boots to Books memorial

Boots-to-Books Veterans Memorial

The Boots-to-Books Veterans Memorial is located east of the library in the flag plaza between Kirk Library and the Hanson Building. In order to recognize and honor all U.S. armed forces veterans, past, present, and future, veteran Rodney Saarela spent several years fundraising for a monument on the Centralia College campus. The monument is a bronze cast from Saarela’s service boots and college textbooks.

Saarela is a former Marine and Army veteran and the Veterans Corps representative on campus. He is a combat veteran, having served with the Marine Corps in Iraq in 2005 and 2006, and knows how important it is to have a safe place for veterans to make the transition from the military to higher education.

"When I started here at Centralia College, there were minimal services for veterans and I thought a lot about what would be important to veterans," Saarela said.

He knew that educational services would top the list for those making the transition from military service to higher education, but that there needed to be something more to honor the men and women, past, present, and future, who served in the Armed Forces.

Saarela had seen the Boots to Books monument on other college campuses and believed that the monument needed to be a part of this campus, so he started the effort to make it happen. Thanks to all of his efforts, the monument was unveiled at the college’s November 13, 2012 Veterans Day recognition.

Boots-to-Books Veterans Memorial unveiling, slideshow Nov. 2012



"Crosscut" by Gerard Tsutakawa

Gerard Tsutakawa’s bronze sculpture, located east of the Library’s main entrance, was commissioned in 1994 by the Art in Public Places Program from funds generated by building the new Library, finished in 1991, and from the remodeling of the Professional Technology Center, completed in 1993.

Tsutakawa envisioned the college as a link between Lewis County’s past and future. “Crosscut” represents a section of old-growth tree with a window in its middle that resembles a computer screen. The slab of old-growth symbolizes the county’s past prosperity, which is rooted in logging. The window looks into a Library classroom and represents the future of this area based on our ability to make a transition from logging to new technologies.

"Through the education this school will provide, a new age of prosperity will prevail," said Tsutakawa.

The AIPP allocated $23,030 for the work which was finished and set in place in 1995 during the college’s 70th anniversary.

Tsutakawa was born in 1947. He is the oldest son of renowned sculptor George Tsutakawa. Gerard Tsutakawa began working with his father in the mid-1960s, learning welding and fabrication techniques. Gerard Tsutakawa eventually assumed the technical production of his father’s metal sculptures and fountains and carries on his father’s legacy.

See: College's commissioned art spans three decades: Gerard Tsutakawa's Crosscut: front of Library (pdf), Blue & Gold (Student Newspaper), April-May 2000.


Ceremonial Mace

Centralia College Ceremonial Mace

Ceremonial maces have been carried in college and university academic processions for centuries. Historians tell us that the first dated record of such solemnities goes back to Vienna University in 1385, and that ceremonial maces in their basic form have undergone only slight changes in the course of centuries.

While conducting a summer study tour in England in 1992, Dr. Henry Kirk, president, and Dr. John Pratt, English faculty, were impressed by the ceremonial mace collections on display. When they returned, a committee was formed to explore the development of a ceremonial mace for Centralia College. Committee members included Philip Meany, Librarian; Neena Stoskopf, Director of Admission and Records; Rich Henry, Director of Computer Services; Rob Nesland, student; and Dr. Kirk, President.

Two former faculty members, both accomplished woodworkers, learned of the interest in a ceremonial mace and joined the committee. Bill Batie, former science faculty member and dean, and Bob MacCannell, former community services instructor, worked with the committee to develop the elements and design, and then constructed the mace and cabinet.

The Centralia College mace was crafted in late 1993, and was first used in the 1994 Commencement ceremony. It was carried by the senior faculty member, Philip Meany. This tradition continues today; the Centralia College mace is always carried by one of the most senior faculty during Commencement ceremonies.


Centralia College Ceremonial Mace, continued

Symbolism in the Mace: A mace is the symbolic representation of a living thing. Our mace represents Centralia College. The open book at the top represents the open door policy of the college. The engraved disk with the seal and logo of the college represents the universality of knowledge as provided by Centralia College. The caput (head) is divided into eight parts to represent: the student body, the faculty, the classified employees, the administration, the board of trustees, the foundation, the alumni, and the community advisory boards. The four parts of the caput represents the finance of the college: student tuition and fees; the Legislature’s appropriation; the foundation grants-in-aid; and endowment funds (federal, state, individual, and corporate). The eight jewels on the cap represent the various curricula offered by the college: the academic programs; vocational programs; community service programs; self-improvement programs; citizenship programs; extension programs; rehabilitation programs; and daycare programs. The jewels are made from woods that come from the six major continents of the world. The two rings immediately below the caput represent the authorization for the college: the Community and the State Community College Act of 1967. The two parts of the shaft represent the designated area to be served by the college: Lewis County and a portion of Thurston County. The basket on the foot of the shaft represents the local Chehalis Tribe.

Centralia College has a history designated by its seal and logo. It is the oldest community college in the state in continuous existence from its inception in 1925 to the present.


Mason Murals

The Mason Murals by Alden Mason

Creating the Murals: The Washinton State Capitol building was built over an eight-year period, reaching completion in 1929. The New York architectural firm of Wilder and White designed spaces for murals in the House and Senate chambers, the rotunda, and the lower lobby areas of the capitol. It took more than 50 years before murals were created to fill those architectural voids. The immense paintings that were installed in the Senate chambers were an abstract vision of the state of Washington as seen by University of Washington art professor Alden Mason. At the same time, Michael Spafford, also an art professor at the university, was commissioned by the Legislature to create murals for the House of Representatives.

Mason, a native of the Puget Sound region, created the murals using hundreds of different colors of brilliant acrylic paint applied to plywood panels in thick "squiggles" reminiscent of cake decoration. His joyful "squeeze bottle" technique had evolved over more than 40 years. Mason had become known for his vibrant watercolor landscapes, and he considered the unusual medium an extension of that form. From the outset, the Mason murals were controversial, not because of content or meaning, but simply because critics didn't feel they were appropriate for the solemn Senate chambers. Many would have preferred something more traditional or classic in form, but supporters were delighted with them. They felt that the debate the murals created was healthy and appropriate for a governing body that engaged in those exercises.
The Work: The two lunette halves of the mural represent Eastern and Western Washington. The artist used abstract symbols throughout to express his vision of the Northwest. Triangular shapes indicate the mountains, and the sun is represented as a circle. Parallel diagonal lines depict the rain, while horizontal layered bands symbolize the earth.
READ MORE » The Mason Murals brochure (pdf)


Hercules Murals

"The Twelve Labors of Hercules" Murals by Michael Spafford

History of the Murals: In 1981, "The Twelve Labors of Hercules," two large murals by Michael Spafford, were installed in the House of Representatives chamber at the State Capitol in Olympia. The works had been commissioned by the state legislature and became surrounded by controversy after their unveiling. Calling them pornographic, House members moved to have the murals covered with gold draperies in 1982. The murals were subsequently covered until June 1989, when they were again unveiled for public viewing before their scheduled removal in November. During this time, Elaine Day LaTourelle, the Seattle architect who designed the Kirk Library, recommended that Centralia College acquire these murals for the Kirk Library’s raised clearstory gallery. The quest to bring the unique murals to Centralia College was challenging and took many years. In the meantime, Kirk Library was completed and the Mason murals were acquired for the clearstory gallery. It wasn’t until 2003 that Centralia College acquired the murals. "The Twelve Labors of Hercules" are now publicly displayed in the college's Corbet Theatre.

About the Murals: The mural is "coloristic" rather than colorful and employs the use of various tones and temperatures of dark gray with just a bit of bright color in some of the panels. The variations of gray and white intensify the formal relationship of the murals to their environment as well as developing an internal structure in which each individual panel becomes a part of a continuous movement of dark and light shapes and becomes less important than its contribution to the whole. (Scott M. Haskins, Fine Art Conservation Laboratories Condition & Treatment Report, 1993. Available in the CC Digital Archives.)

READ MORE » The Twelve Labors of Hercules brochure (pdf)