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Chapman PTA's Fundraiser:

Chapman Elementary School's Historic WPA/New Deal Wood Mural Restoration Fund

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Chapman PTA


The Chapman Mural Project proposes to preserve a significant work of Oregon cultural heritage, the large format, WPA/New Deal mural by Aimee Gorham, titled Send Us Forth to Be Builders of a Better World, dated 1938 and located in Chapman Elementary School, Portland. The Chapman mural bears the official "WPA Federal Art Project" brass plaque, which identifies the work as a public commission. The mural is located in the main entryway of Chapman Elementary, and is seen by as many as one thousand students, parents and teaching staff on a daily basis.

Chapman PTA recognizes the importance of our Works Progress Administration (WPA) artwork in our school. Over the past years, the PTA has become concerned over the current condition of the wood marquetry mural in our main lobby. As a result, we have begun fundraising to enlist the assistance of art conservators for the safe restoration and protection of this fabulous art work.

In addition to the physical conservation of the mural, the students and surrounding community are in need of education regarding the historic significance of this graceful piece of cultural heritage. Through the conservation of this piece, we plan to educate the students of Chapman about the cultural and historical importance of this public works piece, through presentations, art projects, and field trips, as well as an interpretive panel that will provide information to all interested students, community members and visitors to Chapman.

Following treatment of the mural, the work will be permanently on display in its original location in the entry to Chapman Elementary. The school serves approximately 700 students annually from kindergarten through fifth grade, with a new incoming class each year. The mural is visible to students, parents and teaching staff on a daily basis as they enter the building and while circulating in the school, providing an opportunity for real and long lasting impact on a great number of community members, young and old.

Nina Olsson, the President of Heritage Conservation Group will act as project manager and conservator for the project.  With 25 years professional experience in art conservation, she has extensive knowledge and experience with the wood marquetry and the techniques used by Aimee Gorham.  Olsson has given talks on Aimee Gorham and on New Deal art in Portland Public Schools at Oregon State University, the Seattle Art Museum, and the Portland Art Museum.

The treatment will first address the structural damage to stabilize the inlaid wood surface. Missing veneer sections will be replaced, using analogous wood essences and stained to match the original tone. A protective coating will be applied that contains UV light stabilizing materials to provide a lasting, durable protective barrier. In the Fall of 2016, the restored mural will be unveiled with a formal presentation for the community, and school presentations for the students. The conservation treatment will take approximately 6 weeks to complete, and must be conducted while students are not present in order to avoid exposure to solvents and other substances used during treatment. 

Join us in funding this project that we plan to start and complete over the summer recess 2016. Together we can reach our goal!



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