Portland/ Arts & Culture
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Published on April 27, 2024
ODHS Offices in Oregon Unveil Comforting Murals to Welcome and Uplift VisitorsSource: Addie Boswell

The walls of the Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS) have been turned into a canvas of comfort, as new murals unveiled across several offices aim to provide a sense of welcome to those in need. To ease the discomfort for visitors potentially dealing with stress or trauma, the ODHS has introduced vibrant murals with a clear message: "You are welcome. You matter. You are unique. We are here to serve," as Nancy Byce, a district administration supervisor in Beaverton, told MyOregon.

The initiative saw the department handpick local artists to transform the spaces into more welcoming environments. Steering clear of government insignia, the offices now feature works that resonate with the community's diverse fabric. "Art is a powerful way try to communicate this," Byce added. The selection process for the artwork involved input from ODHS staff and consulting with Anna Barlow, Director at Color Outside the Lines, a non-profit that supports foster and at-risk youth through the arts.

With the murals now complete, the response from both staff and visitors has been overwhelmingly positive, emphasizing a sense of investment in the community's well-being. According to a statement provided by Chris Ayule, Program Manager at the Washington County SSP, to MyOregon, "I see these murals as an investment in the community. The more we do to make our offices more pleasant and trauma-informed, the better we will be with our interactions. Very representative of the many cultures in Oregon, of people coming together."

The selected artists include Addie Boswell, William Hernandez, and Anisa Asakawa, each bringing their unique style to the project. From the Beaverton to Tigard offices, the murals celebrate community and family themes. A Tigard office manager shared their experience with MyOregon saying, "The team absolutely loved the final product. While Anisa was commissioning this piece, we were checking in with folx in the lobby and everyone liked it. They liked that it was representative of community and family."