To celebrate its 20th anniversary, the Oregon Cultural Trust has commissioned a new license plate. The artist picked to design this new plate is Eugene resident Liza Burns, an illustrator, muralist, and designer. Burns has a BFA from Boston University and an Associate’s Degree in Graphic Design from Lane County Community College.
The Trust decided in February 2020 that they wanted to commission a license plate that captured the cultural diversity of Oregon. In July 2020, a group of 33 people representing Oregon’s artistic community sent out invitations to artists to submit their work. 36 artists sent in samples which were reviewed in August 2020 by a statewide jury. This jury selected 20 artists to submit drafts of their concepts, which were ranked in September 2020. The top three designs were reviewed by the Trust’s Board in October 2020 and Burns’ design got a unanimous vote.
Burns was awarded a $5000 contract with the final design to be submitted in January 2021. She worked with several advocacy commission members of different cultural backgrounds in order to fully represent Oregon’s diverse cultures. Burns said that “with the help of a diverse group of content experts, the list of symbols and images swelled to include facets of the Oregon experience that I could have never found on my own.”
The design includes 127 symbols representing different cultures in Oregon. The Cultural Trust has a visual key on its website which labels all the different symbols. These symbols are set against a representation of Oregon’s geographic features. Burns started with the land because “the diversity and richness of the Oregon geography mirrors its people, which worked well as the foundation of the piece.”
In addition to the new license plate, which will be available on October 1 at the DMV, there will be four full-scale murals at the Portland, Redmond, Eugene, and Medford airports, a 38-foot tall banner at the Northwest Film Center in Portland, posters, and a limited-edition print on Burns’ online shop.
There will be unveiling ceremonies for each of the murals. Rogue Valley International Medford Airport held theirs on September 21. FlyRedmond will hold theirs on October 15 and Eugene Airport will hold theirs on October 28. Portland Airport hasn’t set a hard date, though they expect the celebration to happen in mid-November.