Lane Arts Council and Wordcrafters in Eugene collaborated to bring community storytellers and professional artists together in creating this unique installation, installed at the Eugene Public Library (100 W 10th Ave, Eugene) through mid-November 2022. Each panel, created by a different visual artist, is directly inspired by and made in collaboration with community storytellers who participated in StoryHelix.

Wordcrafters in Eugene’s StoryHelix project invites community members to share their stories about “Belonging” and their experience living in Eugene, Lane County, and Oregon. Stories contributed to StoryHelix become a part of a collective archive of voices from across our community. The stories selected for this art installation represent a wide range of lived experiences.

Enjoy these five stories visually and listen to the storyteller recording below.

Visual Artist:  Christina Schueler
Storytellers: Ayisha Elliott & Eric Richardson

About the art: “My illustration helps to tell the side-by-side narratives of Ayisha and Eric’s upbringing in the Willamette Valley. The image began with the visual motif of a geodesic dome—a structure the pair’s father built, but also a symbol of self-determination and the capacity to build one’s own future. From here, I worked to include elements of Ayisha and Eric’s individual stories as vignettes relative to the backdrop of the landscape. It was challenging to tell two different stories in one image, but grounding the various elements of their stories in the landscape as well as gathering further input from the storytellers helped me to connect the siblings’ two experiences.”

About the artist: Christina Schueler is an artist and illustrator living in Eugene. She creates images with watercolor, collage, and digital media that reflect on our relationships with landscape, other humans, and ourselves.

Listen to Ayisha & Eric’s stories:

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Visual Artist: Erick Wonderly Varela
Storyteller: Liandymary Jimenez Otero

About the art: “I met with Liandy at a cafe wherein she told me all about how she came to Eugene after a road trip all over the U.S, as well as the complexities of being an immigrant, a person of color, and from a colony. Liandy’s passion for community and culture building is infectious, and I believe that Eugene will greatly benefit from her influence. I’m happy that through this process I made another friend. The use of tropical plants was natural, both because of Liandy’s plant business, but also as a symbol of “planting roots” and growth. Liandy is drawn holding a watering can with the Puerto Rican flag to represent the background and knowledge she brings from the island and its culture. The road in the background is a nod to her roadtrip, which leads into Peter DeFazio Bridge. Finally, I had to draw the coqui frogs at the top (a cultural symbol in P.R.) joyfully dancing the salsa.”

About the artist: Erick Wonderly Varela is an artist, illustrator, and cartoonist based in Eugene, Oregon. His work often uses bright, bold colors, and focuses on wildlife and food illustration, as well as reflections on their Honduran heritage. On top vending at the Whiteaker Community Market, Erick’s work has been commissioned by several local businesses and organizations. Their work can be seen on instagram @erick__ink

Listen to Liandymary’s story:

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Visual Artist: Nate Brown
Storyteller: Doriandra Smith

About the art: “It was an honor to work with Doriandra in telling her grandmother’s story through illustration. When I first heard the story of her grandmother, the sense of independence, strength, bravery, and love made it a joy to translate into art. The image is of her grandmother driving her convertible down a windy road in Eugene with her boyfriend who was a jazz musician. The couple is accompanied by family pets that also have significance in the family’s story. And the background consists of the beauty we can find in the nature that surrounds Eugene. Doriandra and I both agree that the access to such a lush environment is what helps make Eugene such a special place.”

About the artist: “My name is Nate Brown, I’m an artist living in Eugene. Eugene has been an incredible place that has given me an abundance of opportunities for growth as an artist and human being. I will be forever grateful.”

Listen to Doriandra’s story:

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Visual Artist: Chelsea Lovejoy
Storyteller: Margaret Steinbrunn

About the art: “This project was such a wonderful opportunity to connect on an intimate level with another member of the queer community. It was such a joy to sit down with Margaret and hear her experience of the joy, strength, and resilience of the LGBTQ community in Eugene in the 80’s and 90’s. I wanted this art to really capture the ways in which Eugene felt like a safe haven of gay bars and dancing, and also highlight the enduring camaraderie of the activism and struggle for the right to exist openly and authentically.”

About the artist:
Chelsea is a multimedia fine artist with more than a decade of experience working in the design industry. She specializes in custom hand-drawn illustration. She uses her work as an opportunity to connect with the community, bring artistry to small local businesses, and keep locally owned journalism alive and well. When not putting all of her energy into creative pursuits, she enjoys bouldering at Elevation, swimming at the Y, and dancing ballet at BFan. Chelsea is currently a full time graphic artist and illustrator for Eugene Weekly.

Listen to Margaret’s story:

Visual Artist: Brandon Waite
Storyteller: Jeff Velez

About the art: “When I first listened to Jeff’s story, I was drawn to his descriptions of the various places that he mentioned and the feelings he described when looking back on those memories. I wanted to show some of those places where he felt like he belonged to something larger than himself. Since this was Jeff’s story, I also wanted to feature him prominently in the design with a portrait and have his words literally with him. The figures at the bottom represented the dance and musical community that Jeff was able to find in Eugene. The warm, bright color palette helps to communicate the fleeting feeling that memories often have.”

About the artist: Brandon is an independent illustrator and artist. His work is characterized by bright colors, energetic movement, and fun. Working from wherever the inspiration hits, you can find Brandon sketching out ideas almost anywhere. He works in a large variety of mediums from digital, to acrylic, to oil paint.

Listen to Jeff’s story:

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Inspired to share your experience or hear more stories?  Visit the StoryHelix website!

This installation is presented by Lane Arts Council, in partnership with Wordcrafters in Eugene, and sponsored by City of Eugene Cultural Services Downtown Program Fund and the Oregon Cultural Trust.

StoryHelix is a project by Wordcrafters in Eugene, in partnership with Lane Arts Council, the Whiteaker Community Arts Team, and the Strides for Social Justice App, and sponsored in part by the Oregon Community Foundation, City of Eugene Cultural Services Downtown Program Fund, and the Oregon Cultural Trust.