The origin of the Seawolf

STAR // Sara Wildman

New art pieces can now be found on display in the Student Center’s Living Room.


What exactly is a Seawolf? Many Sonoma State University students have probably heard this question countless of times. Since the answer is not an obvious one, most might not know exactly how to respond to curious relatives and friends who ask.

Recently, the walls on the first floor of the Student Center were decorated with giant works of art. They portray the inspiration by which Sonoma State got its mascot and give students the opportunity to acknowledge and understand part of the school’s history. The hope for these new art additions is to liven the school’s spirit and honor the Seawolf.

The first thing one might see as they enter the Student Center are the large framed photos hanging on the back walls. These blown-up photographs portray books from author Jack London. London was a highly successful writer in America during the early 20th Century. His life was not easy as he grew up in poverty in the Oakland slums. Most of his story creations came from his own experiences and hardships. His most popular book, “The Sea-Wolf,”  is shown as a theme throughout the display.

This famous book, written in 1904, depicts one man’s journey through the Pacific Ocean. Living an upper-class lifestyle, Humphrey Van Weyden struggles with balancing good and evil within himself. He goes out to sea to seek adventure and experience to become the writer of his dreams. He then falls under order from the sea captain, Wolf Larsen, who is otherwise known as a bully, murderer and madman. As the story progresses, the characters undergo many obstacles and struggles for survival. This book demonstrates how the battles in nature can cause humans to lose their grip on reality.

Ryan Ernst, Director of Sales and Marketing at Sonoma State, describes how these art pieces came alive.

“The Living Room art is one of the last permanent installations originally planned as part of the Student Center interior design,” said Ernst. “The concept was envisioned by the art consultants who assisted with selecting with most of the wall mounted art in the building. These photos reflect the University’s association with Jack London.”

“The Sea-Wolf” is shown several times - 13 to be exact - throughout the art collection. On the left side of the room hangs a photograph that blurs out every book except for “The Sea-Wolf,” making it easily visible. The next photo expands across the entire wall next to the fireplace.

It incorporates many of London’s other books, which include “The Call of the Wild,” “South Sea Tales,” “The Iron Heel,” “When God Laughs,” “Moon Face” and a few others. Hanging directly above the fireplace is a close up individual photograph of “The Sea-Wolf.” Although a passersby may easily miss the other photographs, this particular piece can capture attention from across the room.

“These photos add life to the Student Center,” said junior Ricky Komaroff. “It gives me something to look at. Also, Jack London is one of my favorite authors so it’s nice to see his work recognized through art.”

The once bare walls are now filled with images students can relate to.

“I knew that we were named after “The Sea-Wolf” by Jack London, I’m just not sure if a lot of other students know where our mascot comes from,” said junior Gaby Hingley.

Jack London’s book collection can be found in the Sonoma State library. He was a devoted writer who incorporated strength and empowerment into his books. The Seawolf can be viewed as a courageous character that succeeded regardless of the predicaments.