When artist Joanne Williams saw her labor of love hanging in the lobby of Thomas Jefferson School of Law, she silently mouthed the word “Wow!”
It took her a year and a half and nearly 400 different versions to create the three collages that are now on display on the first floor.
“I did what I wanted to do,” said Williams. “I wanted to tell a story visually. A narrative worthy of this open and wonderful building.”
And that narrative captures the essence of the law school’s namesake, Thomas Jefferson.
“It announces that this is TJSL by showing who Thomas Jefferson was and his wonderful accomplishments,” said Dean Rudy Hasl, who commissioned the work.
The left panel is a representation of Jefferson’s creative spirit and his belief in exploring the unknown. Among the items in the collage is a replica of the Lewis and Clark compass. Jefferson sent them on their historic exploration, fully expecting they would find living mammoths or mastodons in the unknown lands to the west. The collage includes bones from the mammoth found during the excavation of TJSL – an amazing coincidence given Jefferson’s fascination with the giant creatures.
The center and largest panel tells the story of San Diego metaphorically, using nautical paintings and navigational tools to symbolize one’s journey through life and trust in oneself, especially when choosing to be an attorney. The boat in the center matches images of boats that can be found in several places throughout the school, including the tiled floors.
The right panel represents the fruits of Jefferson’s creative spirit in many ways, including his home, Monticello, the University of Virginia that he founded, the Declaration of Independence, which he wrote, and some of Jefferson’s many inventions.
Williams created the evocative work in her Connecticut studio and had it shipped across the country to TJSL, where it arrived in pristine condition.
To see the new artwork, go to the left of the lobby security desk and then right to the rear area of the lobby.
“It’s a stunning addition to the facility,” said Dean Hasl. “Instead of just sticking some bust of Jefferson in the lobby, this captures the essence of the person.”