New Sculpture at TSRI Dedicated to Memory of Norton B. Gilula
By Mika Ono
A new statue entitled "The Flame of Knowledge" was dedicated
at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) on September 10 in
memory of Norton B. Gilula, the first dean of the graduate
program and chair of the Department of Cell Biology. The 15-foot-high
polished steel sculpture stands next to the Immunology building
at the entrance to the south parking lot.
At the foot of the statue, whose sleek, curving surface
reflects the surrounding trees, sky, and light, Richard Lerner,
president of TSRI, introduced the dedication program. John
Diekman, chair of the TSRI Board of Directors, welcomed the
audience and paid tribute to Gilula, who he described as someone
"who made a real difference."
The sculpture's creator, TSRI Trustee John Safer, spoke
on the inspiration for the piece. He said, "I was at a Board
meeting here shortly after we lost Bernie and I was thinking
about his life and what he accomplished... most importantly
that he created this remarkable graduate studies program and
not only created it but made it into one of the outstanding
educational institutions in the world in an incredibly short
time... I conceived of the idea of a sculpture that would
be the flame of knowledge... symbolic of what education is
aboutan unending search, a groping upward. But you never
quite get there. So it's cut off at the top and that also
spoke for Bernie's lifethat he'd done so much and was
Safer, a graduate of Harvard Law School, has led a career
as a successful entrepreneur as well as an internationally
renowned artist. His sculptures are included in over 500 private
collections and public sites and have been exhibited in museums,
embassies and universities throughout the world. Safer was
recently commissioned to create a 70-foot-high sculpture to
be the symbolic theme of the Smithsonian Institution's new
Air and Space Museum. He has also been selected to create
a piece for the new World War II memorial on the Washington
Sandra Schmid, chair of the Department of Cell Biology and
a long-time colleague of Gilula's, also offered her thoughts
on the meaning of the sculpture. "In the coming decades there
will be fewer and fewer on this campus who were lucky enough
to have known [Bernie] personally," she said. "So the statue
of the flame of knowledge becomes a symbol. I think, however,
that Bernie would agree, in fact insist, that it should not
be a symbol so much of the past, not so much a remembrance
of one man, but a symbol for the present and the future...
So this statue should be a [symbol] of the idealistic side
of sciencethe side that Bernie walked on. Let it be
an inspiration to make this idealism a daily reality."
Bessie Huang, former Associate Professor in the Department
of Cell Biology and Gilula's widow, thanked Lerner, Diekman,
members of the Board, and Safer for honoring Gilula's memory
in this way. "I know that Bernie would be pleased, feel deeply
honored, and at the same time overwhelmed by this tribute,"
she said. "He would be particularly moved by the fact that
the artist of this magnificent sculpture is John Safera
man that he so admired not only for his extraordinary talents
as an artist but for the way he lived his life with humanity
and a constant conviction that 'life is good.'"
While the dedication ceremony was over after a few minutes,
"The Flame of Knowledge" will shine brightly on the TSRI campus
for many years to come.
"The Flame of Knowledge" will shine
brightly at TSRI for many years to come.