Team Leader: Mariah Gladstone
Artist(s): Mariah Gladstone, Kau'ano Esperas, Luna Esperas (age 8)
Description / Inspiration: Our deep love for our community and belief in the power of transformation is what inspired us to create our interactive mural. Our dream is to live in a place where our community members and families are thriving physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. We hope that the Apaanii, or butterfly, becomes a place where Blackfeet Nation residents and tourists alike can choose to ""fly"" away from drugs and towards radically inspired growth and change.
While we wanted to answer Paint the State's challenge to "clearly communicate the dangers of Meth use," we also wanted to uplift the mural's viewers by giving them the opportunity to try on a pair of wings so that they can photograph themselves through the lens of wholesome transformation. The mural offers the viewer an interactive choice between positive changes (the uplifting butterfly wings) or the negative changes that come with meth use. To clearly communicate the dangers of meth use, we depicted the ultimate danger: death. However, we depicted the single figure mourning a loved one in order to remind the audience that is still in active addiction that they are not alone and their loss would be felt deeply by their family and community. The complete piece is interactive and 3D as viewers step into a grove of aspens and wildflowers and choose the transformation they want to see.
The selfie spot (or in Nitsipowahsin language: Apaanii Point) showcases the wings of Montanaʻs state insect, a Mourning Cloak butterfly surrounded by vibrant native wildflowers (fireweed, glacier lily, camas, yarrow, lupine) and green grass. Our plant and butterfly choices are rooted in the world around us in the hope that the viewer will see a graphic depiction of the choices they face everyday. Following that is text that reads “Metamorphosis not METHamorphosis”. The word Metamorphosis is painted in green and the word METHamorphosis is painted in a blood red, dripping font.
The last scene on the wall is set in a graveyard. There is a figure lying on the ground in front of with a single, blank headstone. They are grief stricken and mourning the loss of their loved one. The wildflowers in this area of the mural are brown and drooping over, lifeless. The grass is dying and the aspen trees surrounding the person are bare.
Additionally, we painted "METH: NOT EVEN ONCE" on an above rooftop portion and painted the support poles of the overhang to look like aspen trees. In the Blackfeet way, aspens are covered in Old Man Napii's eyes: a reminder we are never alone.
Location: Side of Glacier Way C-Store Gas Station in Browning, MT, Highway 464 en route to Glacier NP View on map
Glacier Way C-Store and Pat Schildt
Nelson's Ace Hardware in Whitefish, MT
Western Building Center in Whitefish, MT
Columbia Falls' Ace Hardware