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Bailey Nelson leading library mural project

Bailey Nelson went through two rough sketches - in black and white, and in colored pencil - to get the mural just the way she wanted. The final product will be revealed at the Oregon Public Library at 5 p.m. Photo by Zach Arbogast.
Bailey Nelson went through two rough sketches - in black and white, and in colored pencil - to get the mural just the way she wanted. The final product will be revealed at the Oregon Public Library at 5 p.m. Photo by Zach Arbogast.

The Oregon Public Library’s children section will be adorned with a mural designed by an Oregon High School sophomore and painted by several students.

Starting in late 2015, the public library underwent a $400,000 renovation to make it more handicapped-accessible, solve some space issues, and move the children’s section into the basement.

The transition was finished early this year, and the new children’s section is now getting a piece of art completed by the community, spearheaded by an OHS sophomore in the Open Program.

Bailey Nelson, 16, designed the mural. Titled “The Tree of Knowledge,” the piece depicts an open book sprouting a giant red tree. Within the tree are happy people enjoying activities like reading, singing, dancing, painting, and enjoying nature.

“I wanted the mural to be a message to kids what reading can do for their lives,” said Nelson.

Beginning in early February, the mural was painted on a pair of four foot by eight foot panels, and Nelson had more than just her hands on this piece; Oregon Elementary School students helped as well.

OES Art Teacher Jordan DeWilde allowed Nelson to use his classroom on Tuesday afternoons.

During recess, around 15 of DeWilde’s art students in grades 4-6 would come in and help her paint the mural.

“Working with the kids was an eye-opening experience, and I could not have asked for more,” said Nelson. “I also really appreciate how supportive Mr. DeWilde was; he helped me a lot.”

However, DeWilde offers a different perspective, saying his role was minimal, and no credit should go to him.

“I think Bailey’s message is a positive one for the community,” he said. “She created a wonderful experience for these students and a beautiful mural that others will enjoy for years to come.”

Nonetheless, Nelson maintains that her support has been great. She says her parents, OHS Principal Andrew Nelson and library board president Wendy Nelson have encouraged her from the start, and her friend Jaycie Dees helped her every step of the way.

She says the project only cost around $100, which was donated by the library.

“The Tree of Knowledge” will be revealed on Friday, May 12 from 5 to 7 p.m. on the wall of the children’s section at Oregon Public Library, 300 Jefferson St., Oregon. Afterwards, it will remain a public display indefinitely.

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