By Samantha O’Conner

A group of talented high school artists have brightened a bare wall on a downtown Baker City building.

Six colorful tile mosaics were recently affixed to the south wall of the New Directions Northwest administrative office on the one-way block of Broadway Street between Resort and Main streets.

Baker High School art teacher Kristen Anderson wanted to add to the city’s collection of public art, and she decided mosaics, made from broken pieces of pottery she has saved for eight years, would be an ideal medium for her 50 to 60 students.

“We’re a huge art community but we don’t really have a lot of art downtown,” Anderson said. “So I always wanted the kids to be a part of community art.”

Anderson, who studied art in school, has taken many classes where she worked with clay. When she had pieces she wasn’t fond of but didn’t want to throw away, she started collecting them in a large pot. She did the same with student artwork, putting them in the bin to use later on.

She accumulated eight years worth of pottery projects. Anderson then talked with local artist Andrea Stone, who works with mosaics.

Anderson said she “always knew I wanted (Stone) to be involved in it.”

Stone said she came up with a theme to help guide the young artists’ work.

“Where we started with the kids was ‘The City of Trees’ just because we wanted to have some jumping off point for them in terms of their designs and to be thinking about the community and their connection to the community,” Stone said.

Students worked on two large mosaics as well as their own small tiles. The two larger mosaics depict Baker City with its incorporation year of 1874, and the Oregon Trail with wagons and miners beside a river.

Trinity Frye, a junior, chose to depict birch trees in her square and worked on the skies in the larger mosaics using clay and glass pieces.

Students’ works ranged from touching on Baker’s mining legacy, the Oregon Trail, and local camping and hiking areas.

Chania Miller, a senior, depicted a wagon with trees on the side and mountains in the back.

“I thought it was fun,” she said.

Junior Baylee Hatfield designed her square with Anthony Lakes as her inspiration, and fellow junior Jocelyn Wellman chose inspiration from the Eagle Mountains.

Others based their designs on the seasons. Seniors Eli Lien and Andrea Pettit chose to incorporate winter into their squares.

“It reminded me of like a puzzle because you had to, like, make sure each piece fit with the next one and you just filled out an image using different pieces of mosaic tiles,” Lien said. “I did like a tree and winter is my favorite time.”

See more in the May 22, 2019, issue of the Baker City Herald.