MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility, Salem OR

Introducing art and design into a correctional facility is truly a first for the United States. All these facilities aggressively promote rehabilitation, yet unfortunately all too often these campuses create a sterile, uninspired, institutionalized atmosphere. Thankfully, the MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility is actually quite a beautiful campus.

Over the course of a year, numerous day-long meetings were held. Often there were over 30 attendees consisting of rehabilitated “youth”, designers, executives across two architectural studios from Seattle and Portland, all along with the Oregon Youth Authority who were the professionals aiding, guiding, and acting as the emotional custodians at MacLaren. Whew!

Together we managed to create six dynamic, culturally sensitive and inclusive mural concepts that would identify each campus building visually, thus providing thematic mascots based on mutually agreed positive phrases. This was no small feat! (Note the chosen phrases above each piece below).

Mayer/Reed, a Portland based Environmental Graphic Design Studio, ran point on project management and creative collaboration along with Seattle’s DLR Architecture firm who provided the design and build management. The two firms embraced a bold project, and it was an absolute honor to work with them.


Due to security protocols, onsite production limitations, and rigorous code for these types of installations, I created all these pieces offsite in my studio. Each coming in at 7 x 27′, I painted many of the assets on large scale boards, photographed the paintings with a Canon EOS6D, then delicately interpolated the imagery into a digital file to be combined with other original assets and vector backgrounds. Upon completion, these massive, life-size 200 dpi images were sent to a printer where they’ll ultimately be printed on an aluminum product called “Alto”. Lastly, the printed murals will be installed by MacLaren contractors.


In my 15 years as a full-time creative professional, this was a milestone project. The process required such incredible sensitivity, delicate communication, and unwavering professionalism. To navigate a project with that many cooks in the kitchen and tackle the graphic complexity of these six pieces was both an honor and an accomplishment.















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