Mural is more than a painting: Community art that celebrates a neighborhood’s diversity

For years, the corner of 27th and T streets was an eyesore, with trash piled high in an empty lot and graffiti scrawled across the concrete wall of a nearby building.

Finally, in 2009, the City of Lincoln, which owned the lot, and NeighborWorks, a non-profit organization, decided that something needed to be done. They contacted Wendy Bantam, a public artist who has created murals and large-scale artwork in Lincoln and other cities and countries.
The question put to Bantam was this: “How can we go about giving people in this area a sense of ownership, pride, and camaraderie?” The intention was to create a mural that embodied the Asian community that settled in the area.
“You see, it’s about more than putting a painting on a wall,” Bantam said.

She took a straightforward approach and spoke with Peter and Tommy Le, owners of the building, Le Auto Center. She wanted to create something that was both meaningful for them and reflected the Asian community in Lincoln.
The Le family emigrated from Hue, Vietnam, to Lincoln in 1990. Their father worked for the U.S. government as a spy during the Vietnam War. When the war was over, their family came to America.
Bantam wanted to create a mural that was reflective of their home country and their story.

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