Tam Le (’24) Creates New Mural on Nature and Mental Health for Campus YJune 28, 2022 • Camille DiBenedetto • No Comments
The Campus Y’s First Year Council held an open call for mural submissions in March, asking the UNC community to submit applications for a nature-based mural that “reminds students of the beauty in our surroundings, and the light within ourselves and others.”
When Tam Ho Minh Le (’24) saw the post on social media, she knew that she had to apply. As a biology student, Tam has both an academic and personal love of the plants and foliage on UNC’s campus—especially Coker Arboretum. “They have a lot of cool plants and also some exotic ones.” She says. “I really love [the Arboretum].”
Because of this, she decided to design a mural for the Campus Y that represented both the landmarks and landscape of
UNC’s campus and individual plants and flowers common in North Carolina, such as Common Greenbrier and Virginia Creepers.
“My safe place is plants,” Tam says. “To me, mental health is when I walk around campus and look at all the plants.”
Tam has been an artist since high school, painting and experimenting with mixed media pieces. At Carolina, Tam is the Designer for the Vietnamese Student Association, creating content for social media accounts such as their Instagram and Facebook pages as well as posters, decorations, and banners for events.
Tam walks me through her process when it comes to designing the mural. First, she brainstorms the concept for the piece, developing the color palette and the overall theme and message that she wants to send out. Then, she sketches the bigger
parts of the piece (in this case, Ramses and the bell tower) before going back over it and filling in the smaller details. After she paints over her original sketching, she goes back in with black acrylic markers to outline and emphasize certain aspects of the piece before spraying the entire canvas with weather wear so that it can go up outside of the Y. Right now, Tam is still in the middle of the painting process.
She plans to have the mural finished by early August so that it can be installed by the time students come back for the fall semester.
Tam’s favorite thing about the Campus Y is the community that she’s found here. Although she has not been deeply involved in the Y until she began painting the mural this summer, she wants to get more involved in the Campus Y in the future. Tam found out about the Campus Y at the beginning of last year and she’s been following their events and social media ever since, even attending a LGBTQ+ demonstration in the spring.
When asked what she likes about the Campus Y, she says “We’re pretty diverse…so I really love that. I [want us to keep] promoting diversity in mindsets and the people [of the Campus Y]. It’s a great message to have.”
As an international student from Vietnam, Tam values the community that she has found at UNC, both in the landscape of the campus and in her fellow international Vietnamese students and UNC’s pre-dental honors society, Delta Delta Sigma. And now, in the Campus Y.
“I’m excited to see it come together,” Tam says. We are too.