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Hedberg Library Mural

During the summer of 2016, Carthage College student Paul Salsieder ’18 created a mural in the Hedberg Library for a Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) project. The result is the wonderful “Domains of Knowledge” mural located on the second floor of the library. Please come to the Hedberg Library to see the magnificent mural in person.

From The Bridge, September 08, 2016:
“His [Paul’s] goal was to create a 21st Century mural that incorporated the timeless themes of knowledge and wisdom without looking dated. See the mural and hear Paul talk about his work in the video below, created by student videographer Torey Kervick ’17.”

From The Bridge, September 08, 2016:

“The mural showcases seven different fields of philosophy: logic, epistemology, politics, ethics, aesthetics, science, and metaphysics.

Each section of the mural is stylistically different than the other six and can stand on its own artistically while also contributing to the artistic narrative of the mural as a whole.

The opportunity for the mural to be placed in the library was a result of the construction that occurred over the summer and an effort for student art to be displayed in other buildings on campus besides the H. F. Johnson Center for the Fine Arts.

Paul’s faculty mentor for the project was Prof. Diane Levesque. Director of Information Services Carol Sabbar and Outreach Services Librarian Liz Lang served as Paul’s ‘clients’ from the library to discuss how the mural could be integrated into the library functionally, intellectually, and artistically.

‘One of the major changes we’re making in the library is the incorporation of student artwork throughout the library,’ Sabbar said. ‘Paul’s beautiful mural is one of the first steps in that process.’”        


Description of the Mural Sections, by Paul Salsieder

Photos by Paul Salsieder, 2016

(From Left to Right)


The far section, Logic, depicts blueprints of groundbreaking architectural works such as the Greek Parthenon and the Byzantine Hagia Sophia. In the top half of the Logic section these blueprints fade into brightly colored and highly idealized buildings based on margin ornaments from illuminated manuscripts. The fade from blueprints to idealized finished work is very important as it illustrates the way people think about things in the abstract. It’s not quite real and the imagined result is invariably different from the finished product. The central figure in Logic is both a builder and architect. In one hand he holds a compass showing the ideas and conceptualization that go into architecture and engineering, and in the other hand he holds a lever represent the practical challenge of bringing plans and concepts to realization.


Three figures dominate the section devoted to politics, the female figure representing Liberty is loosely based on Liberty Leading the People by Eugene Delacroix. The figure holding a globe invokes the classical myth of Atlas, and represents the anguish and burden that comes with power. The third figure with his arm resting on a shield represents war. On his shield (based on the Shield of Achilles as described in Homer’s Iliad) there are images of warfare in the Modern Era; aircraft, artillery, armor and soldiers with firearms constitute the elaborate metal punch-work.


The Ethics section depicts an idyllic landscape full of stillness and serenity.  Five stages of life are displayed in this scene: a baby sleeps in the arm’s of it’s mother, then children throw stones in a pond, a young couple walk hand in hand, a mother comforts her child, and lastly an old man sits in contemplation of the scene. Infancy, childhood, romance, parenthood, and old age are displayed as the different stages of life. Different ethics surround the different stages of life, and only the old man with his back turned to the viewer can reflect on the whole scene, as only a man who climbs a mountain can see the world clearly from above the clouds. He see his mistakes and what could have been, comforted, for better or worse, by the consolation of what is.


Epistemology is the study of belief, knowledge, the validity of information, and the nature of justification. Essentially the epistemological question is “Why do I know what I know?” Much of our knowledge comes from the words of others, in the form of books, journals, theses, et cetera. To reflect this, I’ve included a number of classic works of literature in the foreground of the painting, many of these books are books I have read and that I have found life changing or incredibly moving, but amongst all of this heavy reading I added some famous illustrations from children’s books like The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle and The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupury. The other figures in these sections are representative of students and the various means of pursing knowledge whether it is by listening, looking, or doing.


Aesthetics is the field of philosophical study concerned with the appreciation of beauty, and to convey the feeling of beauty that stretches across the centuries I combined Michelangelo’s famous statue The Dying Slave with bright sensuous colors reminiscent of the modern artist Vassily Kandinsky. Among the bright colors there is the form of a violinist who passionately brings fourth a visual melody. Kandinsky’s intentions in much of his painting were to depict sound and music in a visual form, and I follow in his footsteps of composing music in the sounds of color.


The pursuit of empirical and verifiable knowledge is a spectacular endeavor. In this section there are two types of pursuit, the very grand and the very small. The figure in silhouette with the telescope represents the science of large discovers, the science of looking beyond and seeing into what is immeasurably large and into the black vastness of what is incomprehensible. The figure in the foreground observing a firefly represents the science of looking at what is small, the pursuit of what is so imperceptible that it escapes our notice.  It is the sciences of looking inward to unlock the secrets of grand designs.

In the foreground is the first of four longitude clocks designed by the Englishman, John Harrison. It was designed as a solution to a navigation problem that had plagued sailors since ancient times, the problem of determining longitude. Sparing the specifics, I believe John Harrison’s invention represents everything that science stands for: The betterment of man through the pursuit of knowledge, and the practical application of that knowledge. When confronted with a seemingly insurmountable problem, Harrison persevered and would not stand to be defeated. In the end he changed the world, and allowed everyone to do what science aims to make possible, to find our place in the world.

Marked on the piece of paper below the clock are the coordinates of mural. I hope it will give pause for thought and help people contemplate where they are and what places and opportunities lay before them.


Aristotle called it “The first philosophy.” The field of Metaphysics is concerned with what is and what is not — What is real and what is not real. In a section that deals with reality the figure in the foreground represents dreams. She seems real and believable but her surroundings are not. There is something unsettling about this uncertainty and that sense of confusion is seen in the figure that stands between Science and Metaphysics. He sits staring into the abyss of the unknown on the shaky precipice of empirical knowledge. He is a figure who doubts his own beliefs and the very nature of his existence.

The rest of the section is full of abstractions like the gold squares that break through the swirling forms of purple and the Greek saying “Know Thyself.” Although this section seems bizarre it is essential to look at it and doubt. The only truth that means anything significant is the phrase “know thyself” it is the only thing you can know for certain.

  • Quick Facts

    • Carthage is named a Best Midwestern College by The Princeton Review (2021), a designation given to only 25 percent of four-year schools.

    • The Tower, Carthage’s newest residence hall, provides some of the best views on campus — if not in the Midwest! In addition to #carthageviews of the lake from seven stories up, residents enjoy suite-style living and two floors of shared campus spaces for gaming, cooking, group meetings, or quiet studying. Learn more about all housing options.

    • You’re going to need brain fuel. Grab a morning coffee and a snack and Starbucks or Einstein Bros. Bagels. Later, meet friends at “The Caf,” where the specials change daily but the staples are constant, or swing through “The Stu” for wings, a burrito, or a sub. A new option, Carthage Cash, even covers some off-campus meals.

    • More than 90% of Carthage alumni report that they have secured a job or are continuing their studies six months after graduation. Visit The Aspire Center.

    • 91% of employers say critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills matter more than your major when it comes to career success. Learn more about how the liberal arts prepare you for a successful career.

    • Lots of schools wear the four-year label. Carthage stands behind it. More than 90% of Carthage graduates earn their degrees in four years. Learn more

    • Oscars. Emmys. Tonys. Golden Globes. The playwrights we’ve brought in have them. Each year, the Carthage Theatre Department commissions an original script by a renowned playwright for its New Play Initiative. Carthage students then work with the writer to stage it. 

    • Carthage has ranked as a top Fulbright producer for four of the past five years. Read about Carthage Fulbright winners.

    • Things look new at Carthage because they are. Our science center, student union, athletic and recreation center, and numerous residence halls have all been constructed or newly renovated in the last 15 years.

    • Carthage offers majors, minors, and concentrations in more than 50 areas of study, from marketing to neuroscience, nursing to music theatre.

    • Our Summer Undergraduate Research Experience offers select students a research budget, one-on-one mentoring with a professor, and 10 weeks of analyzing, deciphering — and getting paid.

    • So the lake is kind of a focal point, but there’s a lot more to love about our campus — like the fact that our more than 80-acre campus is also an arboretum and wildlife sanctuary. Focused on keeping campus lush forever, we plant between 50 and 75 new trees every year from a variety of species.

    • Carthage was founded in 1847. That’s more than 170 years of leaders, makers, and go-getters going out and going forth. Read more about Carthage’s rich history.

    • More than 90 percent of students receive financial aid. Carthage awards more than $20 million in scholarship and grant assistance. That includes $5.5 million in competitive scholarships in business, mathematics, science, languages, the fine arts, leadership, and overall academic strength. Learn what’s available.

    • Abraham Lincoln was an early Trustee of the College, and U.S. Secretary of State John Hay was a Carthage alum. The two still have a proud place on our campus. Spend some time with them in our Sesquicentennial Plaza. On warm days you’ll find professors leading their classes here.

    • Come to Carthage; hear yourself think — think … think …
      Legend has it that Sesquicentennial Plaza holds a perfect echo. Just stand with both your feet on the “1847,” face Straz, and start talking. “You’re the only one who can hear you, but you’ll be crystal clear,” promises English and theatre alumna Mikaley Osley.

    • Our Great Lake provides Carthage students with some amazing views. Think classes on the beach, lake views from the lab, and sunrises from your dorm room. “I love waking up in the morning with the sun shining off the lake. Nothing compares to the view in the morning,” recalls biology and neuroscience major Ann O’Leary.

    • Carthage awards up to 35 Presidential Scholarships each year, which range from $25,000 up to full tuition. Learn more.

    • For a full decade, NASA has selected Carthage students to conduct research aboard its zero-gravity aircraft. Lately, the stakes have risen. A team of underclassmen is grinding to prepare a tiny but powerful Earth-imaging satellite for launch to the International Space Station. Learn more about the space sciences at Carthage

    • Carthage is the only college or university in the Midwest where every freshman takes a full-year sequence of foundational texts of the Western intellectual tradition. Learn about Intellectual Foundations.

    • With a student-faculty ratio of 13:1, your professors will know who you are. They will also know who you want to be — and how to get you there. Meet our faculty.

    • There are more than 130 student organizations on campus, from Amnesty International to Fencing to Frisbee, Chem Club to Stand Up Comedy. See how easy it is to get involved.

    • True story: There are more than 27 art galleries, a dozen museums, and nine theatres within 25 miles of Carthage. Some highlights: The nationally recognized Racine Art Museum, the world-renowned Art Institute of Chicago, and the Milwaukee Art Museum. Learn more about our location.

    • What’s better than one professor? Two professors. What’s better than two professors? Two professors from totally different fields teaching a single class. There’s debate. Discussion. Differing perspectives. This is where the magic happens. That’s why every student takes a Carthage Symposium.

    • You can’t hide here — not with only 17 other students in the classroom with you. That’s going to be rough some mornings. But later, when you’re able to argue your point of view thoughtfully, express your opinions succinctly, and meet challenges head-on, without fear … Yep, you’ll thank us.

    • Carthage is ranked in the Top 5 in the country for student participation in short-term study abroad. Every J-Term, hundreds of students travel all over the world on faculty-led study tours. Imagine a month in Sweden, Rome, Cuba, Senegal, India, Japan …