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Llewellyn School welcomes with two new entry murals

RITA A. LEONARD - Teacher Susan Frisby shows details on one of Llewellyn Elementary Schools two new entry murals.Two large entry murals have been installed in the lobby of Westmoreland’s Llewellyn Elementary School, to exemplify neighborhood pride and cooperation.

The colorful murals on each side of the entry doors are filled with student-made images of nature and the surrounding area, including bike paths, wildlife, The Oaks Pioneer Church, the Moreland Farmers Market, and the (soon to close) Meyer Boys and Girls Club.

The larger of the two murals measures fifteen feet high and twenty-five feet long, under a brilliant sun. The moon shines over the northern mural.

Under the leadership of artist-in-residence Sarah Ferguson, the school’s parents, students, and staff came together to design the unique three-dimensional wall art. The medium includes mosaic, paint, and kiln-fired clay pieces glued to the scenery. Houses, people, trees, and all kinds of wildlife are depicted – from eagles, deer, and beaver, to fish, frogs, and turtles.

An Art Committee of four teachers assisted Ferguson with the design. Christy Hopkins, Lynda Collmer, Kevin Fitzgerald, and Susan Frisby helped each classroom choose a focus for their art contributions. “Some chose trees or animals, others selected houses, bicycle riders, or parks,” explained Frisby. “If you look closely, you can see images from Sellwood Park, Westmoreland Park, and Oaks Amusement Park, as well as the Willamette River and the Springwater bike trail.”

Principal Joe Galati says he is delighted with the project. “Many of the pieces were created in the spring, and fired in our own kiln,” he smiled. “Our school underwent seismic upgrades during the summer, leaving us this great blank wall to showcase student artwork. Kids, parents, and staff cooperated to design the murals, which were completed in September. We had a ribbon-cutting ceremony in October.”

Galati continues, “The title of the work is ‘The Llewellyn Neighborhood Community’, and it offers countless elements to entertain visitors. Kids love to point out the parts they worked on, and the mural even shows our resident bald eagle family, which lives in a tree near the back of the school.”

Several kiln-fired fish panels line the floor at the base of the murals. “Those represent the Willamette River and the fish ‘going to school’, and will be installed outdoors later on,” reports Frisby, pointing to other wetland creatures from the Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge.

“There are butterflies, dragonflies, and all kinds of amphibians. There's even a real piece of beaver-chewed wood, glued near the beaver. There are so many authentic pieces in the work. It was a great learning experience.”

The new Llewellyn murals create a welcoming sense of place for Sellwood and Westmoreland neighbors. Visitors to the school are regularly seen pointing to one figure or another, explaining them to children, or sharing their own enthusiasm for the two complex artworks.