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Oregonians to see a bit of themselves in new artwork on the road and in local airports

The Celebrate Oregon! mural was unveiled Oct. 28 at the Eugene Airport.
Melorie Begay
Liza Burn's "Celebrate Oregon!' mural will be on display at the Eugene Airport, it's also one of the state's newest license plates.

The Oregon Cultural Trust unveiled a full-scale mural of a new license plate that celebrates the state's diversity at the Eugene Airport Thursday. The mural is one of four going on display in airports across the state.

Named “Celebrate Oregon!,” the piece shows a brightly colored Oregon landscape with mountains, a river, and some greenery. But take a closer look and you'll find over a hundred symbols of significant importance for refugees, immigrants, Indigenous peoples, artists, local traditions and more all embedded in the scenery.

The artwork was created by Eugene muralist and illustrator Liza Burns in honor of the Oregon Cultural Trust's 20th anniversary. Burns developed the design with the help of an ad hoc committee comprised of content experts identified by the Governors Office.

Oregon Cultural Trust/ Artwork by Liza Burns

They included volunteers from the Oregon Commission on Asian Pacific Islander Affairs, the Oregon Commission on Hispanic Affairs, the Oregon Commission on Black Affairs, the Oregon Commission for Women, and Chuck Sams, a recognized Native American leader in Oregon and Immediate Past Chair of the Cultural Trust board, who served as the content expert for Native American culture.

Burns said she wants people who see the mural or license plate to have a similar experience she had while creating the design, which is "the finding, and the recognizing, and the learning aspect of this piece."

Liza Burns stands in front of her mural called "Celebrate Oregon!" during an unveiling ceremony at the Eugene Airport.
Melorie Begay
Artist Liza Burns stands in front of her mural called "Celebrate Oregon!" during an unveiling ceremony at the Eugene Airport.

“I also hope people come away with a broader and more distinct impression of what it means to be an Oregonian,” she said. "I think a lot of times we get given like pine trees and the Ducks, and there you go...[but] there's so much more happening here, there's so much more color, and depth, and personality."

Burns said culture is something that's ever-evolving, making it impossible to capture it all in one design.

"My goal was not to get everything, but to get enough of a broad swath so that every Oregonian could get something they could recognize, something that they know to be true," Burns said.

The other full-scale murals will be on display at the Medford, Portland, and Redmond airports. Eugene’s is the largest of the four and can be found outside Gate A. An interactive key for the artwork is available online.

Copyright KLCC 2021

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