A monument to world peace conceived six years ago was dedicated today at Tacoma Community College. Sunlight filtered down through 50ft. evergreens and dappled the grassy clearing where the Peace Monument, a handsome bronze obelisk carved with the word “peace” in dozens of languages, now resides.
The approximately 8ft. sculpture, finished with a rich blue-green patina, was created by artist and TCC sculpture instructor, Kyle Dillehay, and 20 art students over 18 months. The idea for the piece originated with TCC faculty member Susan Donaldson and the TCC Non-Violence Committee.
“We didn’t want simply to order a [ready-made peace pole] from a company,” said Donaldson. “We wanted the pole to be made here on campus by students in the art program.”
Dillehay, an accomplished sculptor and public artist, designed the work as an obelisk and his students melted down spent bullet casings into the 700lbs. of silicon bronze used to cast the piece.
“Swords into ploughshares,” he said at the dedication, describing the satisfaction of transforming weapons ammunition into a monument to non-violence. The word “peace” is written in raised letters (and in some cases, symbols) in over 50 languages on the four sides of the obelisk. Originally, the languages of all students attending TCC in spring 2006, the year the sculpture idea was born, were to be represented. But the idea of inclusiveness expanded when the Arab Spring took hold, and the fight for democracy spread across the Middle East, said Dillehay. Students researched Egyptian hieroglyphs, found the symbol for peace (“hotep”) and demanded that it be added. Other languages include Mongolian, Vietnamese, Tlingit, Mandinka, and Russian. The sculpture’s raised letters invite visitors to make and take away pencil-and-paper rubbings of “peace”. One more language to be added: braille.
The Peace Monument is beautifully sited in a small, circular clearing under tall trees. The area around the sculpture will eventually include seating, and seems destined to be a popular place to meet. Today, in the golden light of early fall, in a clear, operatic voice, Bill Reiberg led well-wishers, TCC faculty and students in A Song of Peace by Jean Sibelius. It was a scene of perfect tranquility.