When the University of St. Thomas commissioned Mark Balma to decorate the Founder's Hall, it made a commitment to continuing the tradition of making public spaces a forum for the expression of ideas. The frescoes of St. Thomas are an open classroom where students can learn about how old ideas can take on new light; and how these ideas will be carried on for generations by an ancient art form.
The atrium ceiling is one of the largest frescoes in the United States. The 17 by 112-foot work is a focal point in the building's Hall of Founders. Here artist Mark Balma painted a contemporary, allegorical articulation of seven virtues discussed by St. Thomas Aquinas in his Summa Theologiae (Summary of Theology) - faith, justice, prudence, hope, temperance, fortitude and charity. On the 12 supporting pillars are fresco portraits of 12 donors (or their designees) to the Minneapolis campus.