Washougal students from Jemtegaard and Canyon Creek Middle Schools are the newest contributors to the surge of public art in Washougal. On October 12, a crisp, sunny Saturday morning, more than 25 student artists from the Club 8 after-school program met to create a patchwork Chinook salmon mural on a public retaining wall at the corner of “D” and Durgan Streets downtown.
The creative work began weeks ahead, when Club 8 students, lead by JMS art teacher, Dani Allen, met with local muralist Travis London to come up with their individual designs for the piece. Allen was the driving force behind the project that has been envisioned for several years.
“This was a great example of the partnerships that take place in Washougal to support art,” said Allen. “City of Washougal supplied the location and cleaned and primed the wall. Washougal Schools Foundation provided a grant for the paint and a consulting fee for Travis. Washougal Arts and Culture Alliance worked to bring these relationships together and Washougal School District supports the middle school Club 8 after-school program.”
“It’s great working with middle school students,” said London. “They enjoyed learning the process of mural creation. I met with them just once and gave them tips and direction on how to take these designs from paper to a wall. They did great!” London conceived of the Chinook salmon design to serve as a template because of how the fish represents the Washougal area.
According to Allen, the message around the mural was to celebrate diversity and individuality. “Students took inspiration from the theme that being different is ok and differences should be celebrated,” she said. “They wanted the images to be positive and inspirational. The students took their design and this project very seriously. Just look at how many kids came out early on a Saturday to be a part of it.”
“I love painting and love making our world a better place,” explained Aubrey Kleiva, JMS 6th grade student. “It is cool because I can make people smile through art.” Her section of the mural included a quote to offer encouragement. Her words are; “Life can be a rough current but just keep swimming through it.”
Allen and her Club 8 art students were also responsible for creating a mural on the baseball shed at Lower Hathaway Park ball field in 2018 and are already looking at locations for their next public art project.