Student Art is For the Birds

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Community art is an important element of downtown Washougal however a recently updated installation is clearly for the birds.  Through the combined efforts of local middle school students, Washougal Arts and Culture Alliance members Janice Ferguson and husband George Gross and City of Washougal, nearly a dozen beautiful student-decorated birdhouses have been added to others residing atop poles in the flower bed next to the Washougal City Hall parking lot.

“This project is a continuation of one that Joyce Lindsay and I started back in 2016,” explained Ferguson.  “It started with community members painting the houses placed at the flower bed next to what had been a community garden plot.”  The project combines the passions of Ferguson and Gross.  Her love of art, his love of woodworking and both of their love of gardening.

Years of wind, rain and ice storms have caused damage to several houses through the years, making the student works a welcome addition. Using recycled and repurposed wood, Gross has built 27 birdhouses to provide to the Club 8 Art Club composed of Jemtegaard and Canyon Creek Middle School students and led by JMS art teacher Dani Allen.  “The kids loved the chance to challenge their creativity to make the houses into works of art,” she said. “And they love being able to see their art out in the community.”

Ferguson agrees.  “It is really fun to get the kids involved and it is also important to give them the opportunity to display their works in the public for everyone to enjoy,” she said. “It is a gallery all its own.  The houses provide such a bright and colorful welcome to City Hall employees and visitors.”

According to Gross, several houses have occupants.  “I’ve seen a number of Chickadees and House Finches nesting in them,” he said.

In another City and WSD bird house partnership project, Washougal High School Woodworking students have built and decorated houses that will be placed in the new community garden park in downtown Washougal.  Materials were donated by Rick’s Custom Fencing for a City of Washougal event last spring that did not happen.  While learning at home, students were issued materials and plans and did the work with online instruction from WHS Woodworking teacher, Brent Mansell.

Club 8 would like to continue the birdhouse project and students have asked their work be shared in Hamllik Park nearby where several live.  To do so, more wood will need to be sourced.  Donations can be made by contacting dani.allen@washougalsd.org.

“We love seeing so much art popping up all through Washougal, and especially student art,” Ferguson said. “We invite the community to come out and explore all the art that is offered here.”  An art map, created by WACA and funded by City of Washougal Tourism Funds, can be found at http://washougalarts.org/local-art/

March is also Washougal Youth Arts Month and to see more art created by Washougal students, including the high school bird houses, visit http://www.washougal.k12.wa.us/youth-arts-month/

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