This mural, by Alisha Maire Adams and Vanessa R. Toews, depicts Canadian tiger swallowtail butterflies flying amongst a background of purple windswept clouds. The mural is located on the southern exterior of The Rehabilitation Society of Calgary and is visible from the Baines Bridge, Memorial Drive, and the walking paths near the building.
The imagery came about through consultation with the Rehabilitation Society of Calgary, like many non profit organizations the society is rethinking how they will operate in a post COVID world and the word reemergence was used often in talks with the members. As two artists who often work with natural motifs and include deeper symbology behind the imagery they present, they began digging into ways of including the theme of reemergence into the mural. Butterflies came to mind for their transformational metamorphosis, and the Canadian tiger swallowtail was the perfect candidate, as the species is native to Alberta and is a resilient pollinator.
Colour was their next challenge as they would be painting a mural overtop of walls already finished in a deep burgundy. After creating a palate of options they tested how each colour looked in the various lighting conditions experienced throughout the day, choosing colours that were visually pleasing and harmonious with the buildings pre existing colour. Once the colours were chosen the artist felt compelled to rework their initial designs, as it had become obvious that the colours which were chosen mirrored those of the chinook sunsets so often witnessed in the foothills surrounding Calgary.
Still, the biggest hurdle they had to overcome was Calgary’s weather, they were endlessly thankful for October’s beautiful Chinook weather that allowed them to finish painting the initial 75.5 ft long butterfly motif. The artists will add to the mural wrapping it around the east wall of the building in the spring when there are more hours of daylight and the weather is once again conducent to outdoor painting.
Both Adams and Toews have professional art backgrounds working with adults with developmental disabilities, and will be facilitating workshops to revitalize the preexisting mural on the west wall with participating members of the Rehabilitation Society. Additionally, the workshops will be conducted in the spring when the warmer weather affords the members more comfort and safety during their participation.
The artists hope that this mural not only helps to beautify the community of Bridgeland where both artists reside, but that the community can begin to take ownership of the mural and share the stories it inspires. While painting it they had many visitors and onlookers. Both artists felt particularly touched when a member of the seniors home adjacent to the Society made a point of sharing her appreciation of the mural, and shared a touching story about the personal significance of butterflies in her life. Both artists feel hopeful that this work will have a positive impact on the Rehabilitation Society of Calgary, adding beauty to Bridgeland, and bringing joy to the passers by and commuters who witness it.