'Art for a better community' in Vietnam's Tam Thanh mural village
Riding about an hour south from Hoi An along the Thanh Niên road, I arrived in Tam Thanh much like Dorothy stepping out of black and white into technicolor Oz.
Tam Thanh explodes out of pastoral sepias into pinks and blues, yellows and deep violets. The main street is a regular kaleidoscope where every house has its own unique color and character. Murals of local people decorate the larger walls and smaller paintings trail down the alleyways inviting visitors to explore.
This time last year Trung Thanh Village in Tam Thanh Commune looked like any other provincial fishing village on Vietnam’s central coast. These small villages of about twenty families collect tightly around a main street with a handful of small stores, a local market, and a few drinking joints.
With the tagline ‘art for a better community,’ the mural village project has started an important discourse in Vietnam about the accessibility of art in everyday life regardless of one’s socioeconomic background. Inspired by Korean mural villages, the Tam Thanh Mural Village is a joint initiative by the Korean Community Art Exchange Program and the Vietnamese People’s Committee of Quang Nam Province to bring art to the people. The murals are meant to reflect the local culture, people, and nature.
Over a period of about two weeks in the summer of 2016, five Korean artists, seven Vietnamese artists, and a handful of local volunteers painted over 100 murals. The Korean foundation chose Tam Thanh due to the high density of homes in a relatively small area. Their close proximity would create a easy-to-view, gallery-like effect for the murals.
The Tam Thanh Mural Village is a testament to the evolving face of vietnamese art culture. The first of its kind in Vietnam, it strives to boost local tourism and bring a new vitality to an otherwise sleepy corner of the province. With the blessing of the local people, the volunteer artists have been able to turn garden-variety construction into a cohesive work of living art.