The crowd of Camas School District employees, administrators and students gathered inside the district’s Jack, Will and Rob Center on Friday, April 21, cheered as Hayes Freedom High School freshman Kindyl Moore unveiled the floor-to-ceiling mural they’d spent months creating.
Featuring a sweeping rainbow, giant red heart and multi-hued hands, Moore’s public artwork came with a message: “When we lift others up, we all rise together.”
Moore, 14, took their inspiration from a piece of art on the nearby desk of Brenda Schallberger, the coordinator of the school district’s Camas Family-Community Resource Center.
Schallberger, whose desk sits next to Moore’s mural and has a view of Hayes Freedom High School, wanted a mural that would feel welcoming to all families and individuals who enter the resource center.
On Friday, Schallberger said she was thrilled by what Moore, 14, and their Hayes Freedom art teacher, Miranda Wakeman, had created.
“I love it,” Schallberger said. “I had a piece of art I liked, that had tiny hearts and hands, with a (similar) message … and I showed that to (Moore).”
The Camas teen and their art teacher took Schallberger’s art inspiration and ran with it.
Moore had created a smaller mural at Odyssey Middle School during their eighth-grade year, and felt ready to tackle a similar project when Wakefield asked her class of young art students if anyone was interested in creating a mural inside the Jack, Will and Rob Center.
Moore began the process in the winter of 2022, and came to their teacher with some concepts.
“I started by just drawing the actual image we were shown,” Moore said, referring to the artwork Schallberger kept on her desk inside the resource center. “I started drawing that and then drew ideas as they came to me.”
Wakeman and Moore both underestimated the sheer size of the resource center wall where the mural would arc around a doorframe and would likely be the first thing families entering the space would see.
“I had been in that space before, but it didn’t really register how big it was,” Moore said.
Wakeman, who led her first public art project 10 years ago at Discovery Middle School in Vancouver — a 4-by-8-foot panel that included 40 languages written in a graffiti style — agreed.
“It was the biggest mural on a wall I’ve done to date,” Wakeman said of the Camas resource center mural.
For Moore, the project was a bit daunting, but they felt confident in their sketches.
“I had done a mural before, but it wasn’t as complicated. There weren’t as many components as there were in this mural,” Moore said. “But I’m really happy with how it turned out.”
Wakeman said she enjoyed watching her student gain confidence as they worked through the various issues that are part and parcel of mural-painting.
“The most amazing part for me was hearing Kindyl’s self-talk change,” Wakeman said. “They were totally freaking out if paint dripped at the beginning. Then, by the end, they were coming in and doing what they needed to do … and when paint dripped, I’d hear (Moore) say, ‘Oh, it’ll be OK.’”
Though another Hayes Freedom student had expressed interest in helping with the mural’s lettering, in the end, Moore and Wakeman would also tackle that difficult part of the mural.
Moore also credited their parents, Carmen and Tim Moore, with helping on the mural.
“My mom helped a lot, and my dad brought over supplies,” Moore said.
Wakeman, who said she was “bitten by the public art bug” a decade ago, encourages her students to take on these types of art projects that “empower them to do something real and impactful” while also practicing other skills like math “to scale things up” and budget-making to plan the amount of supplies that will be needed to cover such a large area.
In her classroom, Wakeman teaches students how to develop habits that will support their creativity long past the time they’re with her at Hayes Freedom.
“Everybody is creative, but it looks different for everybody,” Wakeman said. “I want all of my students to leave high school with a belief in their creative identity.”
Moore said they had dabbled in drawing before coming to Hayes Freedom, but that it was Wakefield’s art class that really spurred their creativity.
“The art classes at Hayes are really great,” Moore said. “After that first class with Ms. Wakeman I was drawing everyday and I improved really fast. The class motivated me.”
Now Moore is hoping their art skills will help others.
“I hope the mural represents the family resource center,” Moore said. “And I hope that it makes people feel welcomed and accepted — that it gives them hope.”