Santa Fe College unveils new mural in fossil exhibit

A new mural representing 540 million years of life on earth will be officially unveiled in a cerermony today in Building X at Santa Fe College.

Doug Finger/Staff photographer
Published: Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, December 4, 2013 at 11:37 a.m.

Tasked with summing up the last 540 million years of life on earth in one mural, Harimandir Khalsa painted a red-cased iPhone and surrounded it with a chaotic world of dinosaurs, polar bears, plants and the father of evolution looking over it all.


Mural unveiling ceremony

When: 3 p.m. today
Where: Natural Sciences Building X, Santa Fe College, 3000 NW 83rd St.
Cost: Free

The mural that took her 35 days to create was the last piece of the puzzle for Santa Fe College’s fossil exhibit. Housed on the first floor of Building X, the lobby-turned-museum has one of the largest rock and mineral collections in North Florida.

An unveiling ceremony for the 24-by-14-foot mural is planned today at 3 p.m. in the lobby of Building X.

Khalsa, 65, decided an iPhone in the center of the mural was the best way to bring it to the present because it was the most contemporary thing that she could think of. The phone displays the date Oct. 8, 2013, which is the day she finished painting.

The mural, which cost about $10,000, is a progression from the Paleozoic age, to the Mesozocic age and finally the Cenozoic age, which is the age of the mammals. Charles Darwin is painted in the corner watching over it all.

The picture is hemmed by a border of a green DNA helix. An inscription on the bottom says, “For the curious: gatherers of knowledge.”

Michael Patrick, a natural sciences professor at Santa Fe, came up with the words. Patrick hired Khalsa to bring the vision in his head to life after seeing some of her previous work.

“It really grabs people’s attention and their imagination,” Patrick says. He’ll be retiring in a few months after 30 years of teaching, and leaving behind the museum he helped create for future generations of students to explore.

The picture if filled with symbolic messages. The polar bears are surrounded by fire, a nod to their endangered species status and global warming. An ear of corn represents humans learning to farm and the wolf symbolizes the domestication of animals.

A person could look at the mural everyday and discover something new, Khalsa says. And that’s how she likes her paintings to be, not just an image that can be summed up by a sentence but one that tells a complex story.

But though the mural covers 540 million years of history, Khalsa says, “It’s just a drop in the bucket in time.”

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