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As part of the Community Portrait Project, artists from the Arts and Culture Council illustrated over 80 portraits of people who help make Wilsonville a better place to live. 

Sophie Gordon didn't know Whitney Sweet's story before she started to draw him, but that didn't stop her from telling his story.

In 2020, the community voted for "Wilsonville Helpers." People were advised to think of someone in their community who was selfless and built people up. From there, students at the Wilsonville Arts and Culture Council selected one of the over 20 helpers and illustrated portraits that represented each person's story. The inspiration for the art project was to celebrate the stories of unrecognized community members.

Starting Nov. 20, the arts and culture council is presenting the work as part of what was referred to as the Community Portrait Project. Many of the selected helpers are teachers in the district, but among the others are dance instructors, an engineer and a chiropractor.

Gordon selected Sweet, a teacher at Boones Ferry Primary School. Using the Procreate app on her iPad, Gordon recreated a selfie Sweet took on a hike. She said there was no description of Sweet, but she was drawn to his smile and body language.

"From the photos I saw, he looked very caring, and his smile was pretty contagious. He also seems to really love nature, which is also something I connect to," she said. "My favorite part was putting my style into the design, like taking the picture of Sweet and then taking some liberties to make my own story about who he is."COURTSEY PHOTO: SOPHIE GORDON - Sophie Gordon chose primary school teacher Whitney Sweet as her portrait inspiration. She said she was drawn to his smile and body language.

Community members can visit the virtual gallery at Wilsonvillearts.com to see all of the portraits and learn more about Willsonville's helpers. A three-panel stand showcasing a few of the portraits is also available for view at the Wilsonville Public Library.

The arts council is also taking nominations for its 2022 community portrait project. Interested community members can recommend a "Wilsonville Helper" on the council's website or Facebook page.


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