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Four students create a mural at West Linn High School this summer



by: TIDINGS PHOTO: JORDY BYRD - Senior Emma Kennard works on the new mural at West Linn High School. Old cloth and plastic is strewn out on the floor. Speckles of red, green and yellow drippings polka dot the spill cloth. Blue painting tape and paint buckets line the hallway just past the main lobby, just up the stairs and to the right at West Linn High School.

But this isn’t your average summer maintenance project. This isn’t your average beige paint job. The walls just outside the attendance office are alive with green ferns, towering trees, native birds, inspirational quotes and a golden lion that seems to have walked out of Narnia itself.

This summer, 2012 graduates Julia Tatiyatrairong, Samantha Neverick and Katie Skoczylas and senior Emma Kennard painted the school’s first mural. The students anticipated the project would take two weeks to complete — it actually took 30 days and a little more than 100 hours to finish. An unveiling ceremony was held last Wednesday just after Skoczylas left for college.

“It’s amazing to see how collaborative we can be and how all of our skills have made something amazing,” Tatiyatrairong said. “We wanted the whole scene to show more than just our school but nature and the feel of Oregon and West Linn.”

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: JORDY BYRD - Samantha Neverick details flora and fauna native to Oregon on the mural.This is the first mural in the building so hopefully it will start a trend, Kennard said. Tatiyatrairong and Neverick agreed.

“Hopefully this will show a little bit more appreciation for the arts,” Neverick said. “I feel like sometimes the arts go unnoticed, especially as arts are being hit by the budget.”

Principal Lou Bailey came up with the idea months into the school year, but busy schedules and pending graduation kept the project on the ground until Tatiyatrairong drew out sketches of the project.

She recruited her friends and advanced placement studio art classmates to complete the job. Bailey said the finished mural wasn’t what he expected. It was more. It was more complex, more beautiful and more extraordinary than he imagined.

“These are some of the most top-notch artists I’ve had in my 22 years of teaching,” said art teacher Lynn Pass. “I knew when Mr. Bailey asked to have students work on a mural that it would be a huge success, and they came through.”

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO: JIMMY TATIYATRAIRONG  - Julia Tatiyatrairong, Emma Kennard, Samantha Neverick, Katie Skoczylas spent their summer creating this mural at WLHS.The school supplied nine cans of paint for the project. Rodda Paint discounted the supplies for the school. At least five coats blanket the walls, creating a scene that has depth and texture and highlights that shimmer and move as you walk along the mural. Every plant, tree and bird depicted is native to Oregon.

In the mural, what look like clouds billowing out from the trees are actually inspirational quotes. The painters’ signatures are signed in a swirl and follow the pathway of a bird. Painted within the dirt road is the school’s fight song.

The painters said they wanted to inspire students — every student — with inspirational quotes about art, mathematics, science, sports and life.

Within the sunbeams is a quote from Pablo Picasso that reads: “There are painters who transform the sun into a yellow spot, but there are others who, thanks to their art and intelligence, transform a yellow spot into the sun.” Another quote from Dr. Seuss reads: “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”

Some days the students spent nine hours painting. Others, they painted from 7 to 10 p.m. after work. The hard work they said, was worth it. This year, Tatiyatrairong will attend Brown University, Skoczylas will attend Pepperdine University and Neverick will attend Portland State University.

“I think one of the cooler parts is that we will be able to come back years from now and say, ‘Hey, I helped paint that,’” Tatiyatrairong said.

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