Mural painting students at OC Shelton honor culture, history, and late local artist

Three mural painting students posing, covered in paint, in front of Shelton Campus mural
Art students painting new mural at Shelton Campus

Visit OC’s Shelton campus, and you’ll notice a colorful new mural splayed across a wall in the S2 building. It shows an economic and cultural history of Mason County. On one end, an axe-wielding Paul Bunyan character represents the logging industry that emerged in the area in the mid-19th century. On the other end, a man in rubber boots sits among a pile of shells shucking an oyster, illustrating the seafood industry’s prominent role in the region today. 

The piece is the culmination of an OC class called Public Art Mural Painting, taught by Susan Ogilvie during Fall Quarter. The course is being offered again in the winter at the Poulsbo Campus. 

A student in the class, Orre Leggett, decided to include the “Shucking Man” in honor of his father Howard, who designed the character as a logo for Shelton’s annual OysterFest seafood festival. Howard, who passed away in 2020, was an artist and teacher who helped restore the historic McReavy House on the Hood Canal and started the local Hoodstock music and arts festival.

“His name is all over Mason County,” Orre said. 

Other students contributed design ideas such as a logging truck and the High Steel Bridge, a popular structure at the intersection of Mason County and Olympic National Forest. To find inspiration, the class went on a field trip early in the quarter to landmarks throughout Shelton. They also gathered input from leaders of the Skokomish and Squaxin Island tribes. Then, students drew design concepts and collected feedback on their ideas from employees at the campus. Based on that feedback, they mapped out a final design for the 40-foot-long mural including the best ideas from each. 

For Orre, a Running Start student, the class was a chance to fulfill an art credit toward his associate degree while honing his design skills. Orre plans to pursue a career in illustration or animation. To his surprise, the class also gave him an opportunity to practice being a leader when Ogilvie appointed him the project’s creative director. 

In that role, he received differing opinions from his 15 classmates about what should be included in the mural, then guided the group toward a plan that ensured every student was included. He managed the group during around 20 hours spent drawing a mock-up on the wall, and many more hours spent painting. “It’s been great experience for me, because I haven’t led a team before,” he said. 

Aside from the chance to lead a team, Orre said the class is a rare opportunity to make art that’s bigger than a piece of paper or canvas. “You learn perspective, and you learn how to tell a story,” he said. “I recommend the class to anyone.” 

Visit Art program webpage to find out more about visual arts programs at Olympic College.