This dome is in the Cumberland Inn (a The University of the Cumberlands property), Williamsburg, Kentucky. The cherubs and symbols represent children who have passed away. The artist is Wayne Taylor ('72) and the photographer is Richard Foley, Geography professor. This dome was commissioned by Luther, Rosemary and Jordan Smith in memory of their sons and brothers Drew and Jeremiah.
This dome was
dedicated on June 2, 2001 in the new Grace Crum Rollins Fine Arts Center in
The University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Kentucky. Like the first dome commissioned
by Luther, Rosemary, and Jordan Smith, this dome is dedicated to the memory of
their sons and brothers, Drew and Jeremiah Smith and to all the children who
have died prematurely across the country.
Wayne Taylor, is again the artist of this inspiring rendering of cherubs involved in the Arts.
The beautiful music we have heard was presented by Jim and Judy Rose. It was they who presented us with the beautiful piano in the Athenaeum. It was given in memory of their son, Scott, who died on July 4, 1983, and in memory of Jim Taylor II, who died May 20, 1991. Thank you Jim and Judy. That instrument has given many hours of pleasure to those of us who frequent the Athenaeum.
The artistry in this memorial dome was commissioned by Luther, Rosemary and Jordan Smith in memory of their sons and brothers, Drew and Jeremiah, who died on July 23, 1992. I can’t think of anything that would have graced this lobby more beautifully or appropriately than a memorial to children loved and lost.
The artist who made this dream become reality is Wayne Taylor, an alumnus of The University of the Cumberlands, class of 1972. Wayne prayed over this work of art, asking God to inspire his vision and guide his hand as he interpreted the grief, the hope and the assurance felt by all who have lost children. Thank you Wayne, for expressing the inexpressible.
The symbols contained in the painting were suggested by many of you; and each symbol has individual and special meaning. As I gaze upon this heavenly portrait I see things that you have seen, and perhaps some things that you have not. I would like to tell you what I see.
The background of blue is the impenetrable sky which forms a boundary between this world and the world beyond. It is a filter through which the rays of heavenly light are refracted in such a way that, in this life we see (as through a glass darkly) only the one color, blue, but we know by faith that beyond this limiting canopy are all the other colors of the spectrum, which we see now only in reflection, but one day we will see them and their creator face to face.
The cherubs are our children who are a little less than the angels, but nevertheless immortal.
The clouds are billows of emotion which bear the myriad symbols of our emotions as they change from day to day as the tide of grief ebbs and flows.
The hearts are our hearts, and some have been pierced by the pain of loss.
The bird is the symbol of freedom which we long for to soar beyond doubt to faith.
The lightning bolt is the power that God has loosed in us to overcome and strike down the temptation to give in to faithlessness and hopelessness.
The balloons symbolize the joy which the children surely share.
The daises are for endurance. They live and grow all through the spring and summer, and bloom in the fall, as though they are saying to the chill of winter, “We will overcome…”
The musical notes are for the new song He puts within our hearts.
The doves are for peace.
The star is for guidance.
And the roses are God’s gift to us on blue and rainy days.
The teacher is the Christ who guides us through our pain; the apple is our gift to Him; and the horn is there to announce His coming—the Day of the Lord—when the gates will open for us too.
The horse, Pegasus, is our transport.
The rainbow is the promise that pain shall cease.
And the smiley face reminds us to celebrate life and seek joy in every moment; for joy is God’s way of lighting the world for other pilgrims.
The butterflies. Oh, the butterflies! They tell us of metamorphosis, the way life changes through time and eternity. They show us the stages we must go through, the stages of life and the stages of grief. We start as eggs in mother’s womb; we emerge as pupae, in need of mother’s milk and the humanizing care of our parents. In the larval stage we wrap the cocoon of life’s threads around us; threads of faith threads of fulfillment. Then, when that day comes, we emerge victorious over death, and enter that final, eternal stage which is more beautiful than all the others.
That’s what I see; perhaps you see more.
There is a veiled plaque on the wall. A plaque which dedicates this
and all that it means. It is time now to unveil it. Rosemary
and Luther, will you do us the honor of removing the veil so we can all
celebrate the moment? The plaque reads: “What the caterpillar
calls the end of the world, the Master calls a butterfly.” (Richard
Bach) Dome dedicated in loving memory of Drew and Jeremiah Smith.
Rosemary Smith has written and compiled a book, The Children of the Dome. It is a tribute written by the mothers and fathers of children whose lives were all too brief. The book is not only a tribute, but a compilation of some of the deepest expressions of love I have ever read. They are testimonies of love, testimonies of faith, testimonies of endurance, and testimonies of gradual overcoming. They are testimonies of people who have suffered more darkness than I have ever known, and yet each testimony emerges from darkness to light.
A few years ago, Evelyne and I drove up the Aost Valley (Valle d’Aosta ) in northern Italy. It extends from Torino to Mount Blanc. It’s about 100 miles long. A narrow two-lane road winds through vineyards and villages, past castles and the graves of princes long forgotten, ever upward toward 15,000 foot Mount Blanc at the head of the valley. (It was sort of like life, you move ever upward past pleasant scenes toward your destiny.) At the head of the valley, at the base of the great mountain, is the village of Courmayer, where we rewarded ourselves with great Italian food. It was wonderful. And as Robert Browning wrote, “God’s in his heaven, all’s well with the world.”
But when you get to Courmayer, there is only one way out, and you can’t go back to Torino. (Life doesn’t flow backward, it only goes in one direction – forward.) Ahead of us was the twelve-mile tunnel, under Mount Blanc, to Chamonix, France. I was a bit apprehensive, but we entered the tunnel on the Italian side. The speed limit is only about 40 mph. The tunnel is only about 30 feet wide. It is lit, but appears as a dim yellow haze, a sort of neon surrealism. The trip seemed interminable. It was full of cars and people I didn’t know. They raced past us and before us, and were lined up behind us. We were on a big, dark conveyer belt that seemed to lead to nowhere. I’m not claustrophobic, but I could feel the weight of Mount Blanc above me, and the tunnel closing in around us. When we finally emerged at the other end, there was light and the beauty of Chamonix, and the sun dancing on the slopes of Europe’s highest peak.
I wouldn’t choose to go through that tunnel again, but I wouldn’t take anything for the joy of emerging victorious into the light of a new day. This is, perhaps, a weak but fitting metaphor for each of the stories in Rosemary’s book, They are not just stories of tragedy, but also stories of victory, which are testimonies of the strength of the human spirit reinforced by the Spirit of God. Every story declares that on the other side of grief is joy. Each story is sermon through which the Word of God flows.
A few years ago we gathered here to dedicate this dome. Today we dedicate these portraits (and perhaps this book). These portraits, so beautifully rendered by artist Wayne Taylor, are testimonies to faith. To use Elaine Stillwell’s words, “They are the rewards of reinvested love.” In the 15th century, theologians argued about how many angels could dance on the head of a pin. The answer never came. But I know the answer, and so do you. The answer is “not as many as can dance under the dome.” This memorial is not just for those children whose symbols and portraits you see; it is for all the children who have brightened our lives for a few brief moments and suddenly have gone to be with God. If you look closely, all the children are here. And they are not here in vain, they have a message for us; they speak to us of comfort and light, comfort and light that come through faith. And this is the message: God has not given us faith to keep us safe from tragedy, God has given us faith to overcome tragedy, one step at a time, until sorrow turns to joy.
Once again we dedicate a dome, which honors your children and all
children—those who have been prematurely lost and those who are yet on loan to
us from God, perhaps for too brief a time. At the dedication of the first
dome—the one which graces the lobby of the Cumberland Inn—we extended our
thanks to Wayne Taylor (The University of the Cumberlands Class of 1972) for his inspired
rendering of the inexpressible. Once again, the inexpressible has been
expressed by the hand and heart of this artist. Wayne is with us today;
and again, we express our heartfelt thanks for his labor of love.
This dome and its symbols, which hovers above the lobby of the Grace Crum
Rollins Fine Arts Center here at The University of the Cumberlands, is our second tribute to
children loved and lost. As in the first dome, the background of blue sky
is symbolic of the impenetrable boundary, which separates mortality from
immortality, and we can only perceive the shadow of what lies beyond—the
shadow that will become crystal clear only when we pass through and join the
children. In the meantime, we can only gaze upon the cherubs, the clouds,
the butterflies, the pansies, the hearts, and the stars and such, and wonder how
God will manage to wipe all our tears away and give us eternal peace and
happiness in the presence of the heavenly host and all who have gone before us.
Only then will faith become sight.
Please permit a moment of theological reflection: Please remember the
teaching of Jesus in Matthew 18:14, “It is not your Father’s will that the
least of these little ones should perish.” Let us not charge our losses
to God’s account. If we do, our grief will never mature into victory.
God did not take the children. Blame accidents, disease, carelessness,
recklessness, or whatever chaotic occurrence befell them, but don’t blame God,
because God loves them and God loves us. Even though our faith is in God
through the saving power of the Christ, we are not immune from any kind of
tragedy. However, it is the unique power of the Christian Faith that we
are given by the Grace of God, the strength and the means to turn any tragedy
into triumph. All who have preceded us, including the children would urge
us to accept the power of this Grace.
Now it is my distinct privilege to join you in dedicating this dome to the
memory of all the children.
by Mr. Chuck Dupier
The Grace Crum Rollins Fine Arts Dome features cherubs involved in the Arts.
Dance, Music, Drama, and the Visual Arts are divided into quadrants in the front
row of figures. Backing up the “Arts Angels” is a row of familiar
babies from both the original dome at the Cumberland Inn and the chapter
illustrations from Rosemary Smith’s book, “Children of the Dome”.
The center of the “Music” area appears behind the chandelier as the viewer
walks under the dome. The cherub holds a horn in one hand and the lamp of
education in the other. She is flanked on the right side by a singing
angel reaching for a monarch butterfly. Next is a stooping angel with a
bouquet of pansies in her hand and an orchid in her hair. You might
recognize the next pair of boys chasing yellow butterflies as you continue
around the circle. Before moving on you might try to find a spoke wheel
and a crown in the clouds. The dancers are next in line with a marching
pose down front and a scarlet winged dancer in the distance. Near the
dancers look for an evergreen shape, a ball and glove, and a football. Dr.
Taylor thought it would be interesting to pose a curious cherub looking over the
edge of the clouds down at all of us. This serves to make a connection
with the viewer drawing our attention into the “Visual Arts” area.
Many of the subliminal symbols are hidden in this area in addition to the
obvious dolphin heart being sculpted, the John Deere tractor being painted, the
rainbow and palette, roses, eagle, red bird, and blue bird. In the clouds there
are, a hawk, to the left of the easel painter, a football, basketball, praying
hands, stars, and a basketball with wings all built into the composition in
shades of blues and white. A fly can be found in two places, on the easel
near the cardinal and on one of the sprinkler heads. Overhead an angel takes
moving pictures to represent the media center located within this building, just
another form of visual art. A crawling cherub plays with an airplane while
a bending angel looks at the drawing of the Rainbow Cat. In the clouds,
look for a heart, a guitar, and a UK basketball as we move toward the theatrical
angels holding comedy and tragedy masks. Moving on we enter the
“Music” area again with a happy cherub holding a stringed instrument the
Lute. Inside the sound hole of the lute is the peace sign. On the
hair ribbon of the lute player is a ladybug. There is another crown hidden
in the clouds in this area. Looking at the harp player we see musical
notes displayed on the sheet music that lies before her and an Evergreen Angel
on the parchment at her feet. With the backlit rider on the muscular
flying horse “Pegasus” we arrive at the point where we began.
The circular dome is the perfect architectural devise for displaying the cherub theme because it gives visual depth and understanding of the direction to heaven and the hope of traveling through the portal overhead to be reunited with those we love. The circular design allows for an unbroken blending of lives and activities in an eternal panoramic view as each scene melts into the next.
by Wayne Taylor