Former Resident Returns Home to Paint American Falls History in New Mural | Free electronic September edition
AMERICAN FALLS – A new mural in town tells the story of the American Falls area in vivid color.
Located on the white brick exterior wall of High Desert Laundry, the mural contains a collection of iconic features of the city and the surrounding area that artist Maria Ayala wanted to highlight and emphasize on the history of the city.
“Everything in the room is somehow connected to the land, its people, culture and history,” said Ayala, a 2008 graduate of American Falls High School and lives now in Boise.
Ayala explained that she approached the owner of the laundromat to revitalize the wall and replace the current mural, which was an illustration of a wolf with the words “he only bites … methamphetamine” which was intended to raise awareness. the dangers of methamphetamine.
She got the owner’s approval, and what followed was a week-long effort that colored the wall with hues of pink, purple, green, and blue.
“I wanted to come back here and give something back to the community that uplifted me and help create a healthier visual culture because the wall was pretty run down,” Ayala said. “It was due for a makeover.”
But Ayala wasn’t the only artist tackling the painting project for the new mural.
Sisters Grace and Emma Barclay, both aged from American Falls High School, were previously looking for a senior project and met Ayala’s vision for the wall.
“We were actually thinking about doing something for (Taylor Smith),” Grace said, referring to the American Falls High School graduate who died in 2019 in a rafting accident. “But we didn’t know what design to do exactly and then we talked to the owner of (the laundromat)… and Maria contacted him and he told her about us and we met.
“It’s interesting to see how it all went together,” Ayala added. “It wasn’t necessarily planned. It almost sounds like a coincidence but there are no coincidences, right? It’s really cool how it all came together because I actually wanted to paint a mural on that specific wall to cover that wolf in meth about five years ago, but the project failed at that point- the.
Vanessa Villa, a 2018 graduate from American Falls High School, also asked Ayala to join her on the project.
“I met Maria in my last year of high school and she and her sister came to the school to teach us art and let our creativity flow,” said Villa, who now lives in Pocatello. “And another girl and I were really the only ones interested in a project she wanted to do. (Ayala) wanted to do a mural but it didn’t pass … so she took her loss and always kept it on her mind and after all these years she let me know she was going to do this mural and she asked if I could come and help you.
What arose out of the group’s desire to improve the visual aesthetic of the community was a mural that incorporated aspects of the land around American Falls and gave focus and appreciation to its monuments, history and its inhabitants.
“Every item that’s in (the mural) isn’t here by accident,” said Ayala, who designed all of the artwork for the mural. “There is symbolism in each of the things that are placed here. I wanted to highlight the history, the economic strengths of the region and the monuments. “
Those who observe the mural can see these elements – the wheels of the wagon refer to the Oregon Trail, a Native American motif symbolizes the indigenous history of the area, and the American Falls Dam is featured along with the train tracks. There is also an eagle carrying a sunflower, the latter being a symbol dedicated to Smith’s memory.
“The sunflower was personal to the sisters (who helped me),” Ayala explained.
Ayala, who graduated from Boise State University where she majored in art and psychology, explained that she painted her first mural in Boise and that of American Falls is the tenth to which she attacked.
“(The Boise mural) is what started the love story,” Ayala said. “Honestly, doing my first mural made me feel like I unlocked something. Painting on a large scale is very liberating… because you use your whole body versus a small scale where you basically only use your wrist. “
The wall painting was finished on Saturday and Villa explained that the feedback from the community has not stopped and been very positive, to the point that she said Ayala has received many offers to do more. of murals in American Falls.
“Which I find great because she’s a really good artist,” Villa said. “So I’m very grateful to be a part of it. I know it got a lot of positive attention.
Emma said painting and learning alongside Ayala was a great experience.
“I am happy to have had the opportunity to work with Maria. She is an amazing person and artist, ”said Emma. “At the same time, while carrying out the project, I learned a lot by working alongside him to paint the mural. It is above all one of the best experiences I have had thanks to the support we have received from our community. During the week I think we had over 200 cars (and) people honking or stopping when we were painting. It was a pretty amazing feeling knowing that everyone here loved what we were doing.