Coffee Creek DMV Agents Express Themselves Through Art

Two of the artists pose with one of the DMV call center murals

This article was written by agents at the Customer Assistance Call Center located at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility (CCCF) and modified for the DOC blog. The agents, who are all incarcerated at Coffee Creek, hope there is a shared enjoyment when reading about their journey and the artwork it produced.

The mural that started it all

The journey of the murals began when the DMV Coffee Creek Call Center (CCCC) was preparing to celebrate 30 years of success as part of the Customer Assistance team. The team floated many ideas for the theme and decorations, but ultimately the final decision was made by vote. The result: a bridge, linking CCCC with the larger DMV operations and the slogan, “Driving the bridge to success for 30 years.” Spanning the bridge is a vehicle for every CCCC agent, with salmon swimming in the river below. Decorated with paper, colored pencils, crayola markers, kindergarten scissors, and tape, this became the team’s first mural, and remained up (with facility approval) for an entire year.

At the same time, CCCC manager Tammy Mathews had another teamwork vision brewing, and was working with Oregon Corrections Enterprises’ General Manager Dave Conway to create a more permanent mural. After several revisions to the proposal, the Oregon Department of Corrections approved CCCC for a permanent mural. But when concept drawings were submitted once again for a vote, two concepts emerged as equally meaningful to the team, and it was two murals that were ultimately approved by the department.

For the CCCC team, it was also important that the murals be created by the same women who perform the important work of DMV customer assistance. This required a heaping amount of creativity and ingenuity, since the team had to achieve this on volunteer time without using any Oregon Department of Transportation dollars or DOC staff. The CCCC team operates from the mindset of “We can” and so, they did!

Eight months and 700 volunteer hours later, CCCC now has two beautiful murals. The first mural represents all of Oregon’s most scenic locations and each place DMV offers a set of plates for funding various programs, research, and interest groups. The roads pictured in the mural connect us to the breathtaking wonders of Oregon, from Mt. Hood and Crown Point to Crater Lake and Wahkeena Waterfalls. Take a closer look at the photo and see what features and animals you recognize.

The second mural is a tribute to the beautiful vistas of Broken Top Mountain and Sparks Lake, and the iconic Astoria Bridge stretches across the painting, symbolizing the connection between the DMV call center agents and Oregonian DMV customers. Each of these murals contains heaps of symbolism for the agents who created them. Read on for some quotes from the agents on what the murals mean to them.

“I’ve been here for 13 years and nothing like this has ever been done. It makes all the difference.”

“Growth, Happiness, Teamwork; we have come a long way since we’ve had Ms. Mathews. This took a lot of volunteer hours putting it together, they are uplifting and amazing.”

“It’s a colorful reminder of what makes our state so great, it adds color and vibrancy. It’s so nice being able to have such beauty created by two of our own agents to admire and enjoy.”

“These things take us back to a time before we arrived at Coffee Creek that hold good memories. Additionally, the call center women portrayed are beautiful and strong. They are representing all of us out here helping our community and rebuilding our own strength and confidence.”

“There are a variety of features and elements that make our state amazing just like each of us. We are all individuals and unique, and yet we are all part of the Oregon DMV family.”

“The best part is that we all came up with ideas for individual drawings and put it together like a puzzle.”

“I look at these beautiful murals and feel like I’m looking at Oregon’s best and I’m connected to those places and the people who are traveling there.”

Technically speaking, the murals are not quite complete–the agents still need to add a final border to the break room mural consisting of various Oregon license plates which are set to be painted by a number of CCCC team members once the sketching has been completed by the primary artists. One final sentiment the team would like t0 express is how exciting it has been to discover the many talents hidden within the call center. The teamwork and support has been so encouraging, and the team feels blessed to have a manager who goes the extra mile.