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Image used for Celebrate Oregon! license plate, from Eugene artist Liza Burns.

A new license plate design that celebrates Oregon and the diversity of its culture will debut on Oct. 1, in recognition of the Oregon Cultural Trust’s 20th Anniversary. The artwork is called Celebrate Oregon!

Eugene artist Liza Burns created the artwork for the license plate, which will also be installed as full-scale murals at the Eugene, Medford, Portland and Redmond airports through a partnership with GreenCars.com, a learning and marketplace destination for sustainable transportation.

liza burns

Eugene artist Liza Burns.

In addition, a 38-foot outdoor banner will be installed at the Northwest Film Center at the Portland Art Museum.

“The new design, built on a panorama of Oregon geography, reflects and respects the diversity of our culture at a time we need it most,” said Cultural Trust Board Chair Niki Price in a news release. “Cultural expression is how our communities define themselves — how they live their everyday lives, their traditions, their heritage, their creativity, their celebrations, their values and how they connect with one another. Our culture is the glue that can bind us together as Oregonians.”

Celebrate Oregon! is a tapestry of Oregon geography into which are woven 127 symbols representing different aspects of our collective arts, heritage, history and cultural practices. It is the result of a year-long, inclusive process that began with a group of statewide nominators sharing the creative brief with artists and designers.

A total of 36 artists submitted statements of interest and work samples. A diverse jury evaluated the submissions and recommended 20 artists be invited to submit preliminary concepts in exchange for a $250 honorarium. An expanded jury evaluated the concepts based on criteria derived from the creative brief and unanimously recommended Burns’ design to the Cultural Trust Board of Directors, which unanimously approved it. Burns met with several content experts, identified through the Governor’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, to finalize symbols included in the design.

“We knew that reflecting the breadth of Oregon culture, and how it brings us together, in one design was an extremely ambitious goal,” Cultural Trust Executive Director Brian Rogers said. “Liza’s creation does that and so much more. It captures the spirit of Oregon and also serves as an educational tool for exploring our diversity. We are incredibly proud and excited to share it with Oregonians.”

The license plate artwork will be accompanied by an interactive visual key that explains each of the symbols and how they connect to Oregon culture, accessed via a QR code. The key is designed to help Oregonians learn about the breadth of cultures in the state.

Events celebrating the unveiling of the murals are scheduled for Tuesday at Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport in partnership with the Medford Arts Commission; Oct. 15 at FlyRedmond; Oct. 28 at Eugene Airport; and mid-November at Portland International Airport. The artwork will also be available as a poster and a limited-edition print.

The new license plate will be available beginning Oct. 1 on the Oregon DMV website, at DMV field offices and at car dealerships across the state, including Lithia’s 32 franchise dealerships.

“Oregonians value sustainability and embrace green energy,” Tina Miller, Chief Financial Officer of Lithia Motors and GreenCars spokesperson, said in the release. “Our partnership with the Oregon Cultural Trust, and sponsorship of these magnificent murals, is our way of bringing this important part of Oregon culture into the picture.”

Scott Carroll can be reached at scarroll@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4204. Or follow him on Twitter @scottcarroll15.

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