Expression through art

Hayes Freedom High School unveils commission project

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"This represents how the students are developing in their own individual ways, and the sense of possibility that lies ahead of them."

-- Peter de Lory

“This represents how the students are developing in their own individual ways, and the sense of possibility that lies ahead of them.”

— Peter de Lory

As a dyslexic child who struggled with reading and math, Peter de Lory learned early on to rely on the visual world.

He turned that survival skill into his passion, and works as a photographer. Recently, he was selected as a commissioned artist for a year-long project at Hayes Freedom High School in Camas. Built in 2010, the 200 (capacity) student school provides an alternative to the traditional high school experience.

The project was funded through the Washington State Arts Commission Art in Public Places program, which was established in 1974 to acquire artwork for state-funded building projects such as public schools, colleges, universities and state agencies. Washington is one of just a few states with publicly acquired art in schools. The program is funded by .5 to 1 percent of the state’s portion of construction costs.

De Lory’s 19 photographs, printed on aluminum panels with a 50-year lifespan, were unveiled to the public Thursday evening. The plaque text reads, “Life is a road traveled by all, but appearing as a unique road to each individual. Students at Hayes Freedom High School enter and walk the beginning of the pathway together, traveling out as individuals to the many roads of the world awaiting them.”

“From my first introduction to this commission I felt excited about this unusual new school and the sense it gave me of community and belonging,” de Lory said. “When growing up dyslectic, with very poor reading and math skills, I had no such welcoming place to learn in…Hayes Freedom would have been an ideal place for me, with quirky students like myself and an open environment focused on developing the individual.”

The images were made in the school, incorporating aspects that make Hayes Freedom unique such as classes, hands working, gestures, movement, music and art. Also included are pictures of the Camas area such as the river, slough, Pot Holes, trails, trees, the Liberty Theatre and Georgia Pacific paper mill.

“This represents how the students are developing in their own individual ways and the sense of possibility that lies ahead of them,” he said. “I wanted to use large, bold, graphic photographs. They are suggestive and lyrical, but not instructive.”

De Lory noted that discreetly taking photos during class, with large, sometimes noisy cameras, was a challenge at first.

“But it was a lot of fun and after awhile, I became a part of the process,” he said. “After awhile, it didn’t seem to make a difference to either students or teachers that I was a white haired old guy with a camera and a few questions. It was a kick.”

He thanked the students and staff at Hayes Freedom for their inspiration.

“These photos begin with the bridge to nowhere and ends with the yellow brick road,” de Lory said. “I thank you for bringing it to life.”

Science and art teacher Corrine Lorch collaborated with de Lory on aspects of the project.

“These turned out wonderfully,” she said. “It really represents the culture at this school. Peter was amazing to work with and an amazing artist.”

Amy Holmes, principal, said the project was respectful and reflective of the school.

“It’s amazing,” she said. “It connects to who we are as a school and we were lucky to find an artist who connects with our school and philosophy.”