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New Oregon Cultural Trust license plate design showcases the work of artist Eugene and celebrates diversity




Starting in October, a new specialty license plate will be available for Oregon cars, reflecting the state’s ever-growing culture.

Since the early 2000s, the Oregon Cultural Trust license plate features an abstract field of color created by Northwestern artist Kelly Kievit to represent the state’s vibrant culture. Over the years, the specialty plaque has generated $ 5.2 million in revenue for the Trust, with nearly 60,000 plaques sold.

This year, the Trusts Board of Directors decided to do something different to showcase the diversity of the state. A revamped Cultural Trust plate will go on sale October 1 in recognition of the 20th anniversary of the Oregon Cultural Trusts. The design was unveiled on Wednesday.

The new plate features artwork by artist Eugene Liza Burns. It focuses on the state’s landscape from land to sea, with the incorporation of a symbol overlay of 127 symbols detailing the story. The 33-year-old artist has captured a global panorama of Oregon’s diversity and traditions.

When I was working with what I wanted to do, I thought to myself: How do you answer the question of what the culture of Oregon is? So I asked myself: How do I think about culture? Burns said.

Thirty-six artists submitted expressions of interest and samples of work, however, after a few rounds of evaluations, the Board of Directors of the Cultural Trust unanimously recommended Burns’ design. From there, Burns and other team members met with the Board of Governors for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to finalize the symbols.

My vision [of culture] is based on who I am, Burns said. We need a coalition of people who can provide symbols and images that will cast a wider net.

An interactive virtual key was also created to explain the symbols and connections to Oregon culture.

Oregon Cultural Trust Executive Director Brian Rogers said the license plate celebration of the Cultural Trust is so unique to the state.

I love that it represents the landscape of the state and all the different cultures, said Rogers. It’s a really powerful message.

Along with the Virtual Key, large-scale murals of the plaque are painted by Burns at airports in Eugene, Medford, Portland and Redmond through a partnership with

Events celebrating the unveiling of the murals are scheduled for September 21 at Rogue-Medford International Airport; October 15 at FlyRedmond; October 28 at Eugene Airport; and tentatively for mid-November at Portland International Airport. The work will also be available as a poster and a limited edition print. Details will be posted on the Cultural Trust website.

The plate can be purchased starting October 1 from the Oregon DMV website at DMV field offices and at auto dealerships statewide.

[Oregon culture] is going to change in five to 10 years and that is expected to change, Burns said. But these interlocking symbols portray today’s culture.

-Alexandra Skores

[email protected]; 503-221-8073; @AlexandraSkores




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