Students from across the UNSW community have joined artist Louise Zhang to create a virtual mural of things that keep them positive.

Among all the darkness that 2020 has brought with this, UNSW alumna and award-winning artist Louise Zhang is determined to find the light.

On Wednesday, 10 June, Zhang led the interactive Positivity Mural, a special live drawing event with students across the globe. 

Zhang is a Chinese–Australian artist based in Sydney, who studied at UNSW Art & Design, completing a Master of Fine Arts (Research) in 2016.

Drawing from her experience as a ‘third culture kid’, she reconciled her Chinese and Western identities through an interplay of cross-cultural symbolism.

She has exhibited her paintings, sculptures and large-scale installations throughout Australia and more recently has begun experimenting with VR and immersive technologies.  

Collaborating with students in Australia and overseas, she encouraged participants to draw the things that are keeping them positive – their favourite snacks, their furry friends, their family, anything that made them feel happy.

The finished product is full of hope, love, friendship, and joy: drawings of dumplings, popstars, MasterChef, flowers, animals and even the night sky, accompanied by positive and encouraging messages.

“This is so nice, I hope you’re all having a good day!” commented one student during the drawing session.

“Hanging out with my brothers makes me feel happy during this time,” said another.

The humorous and heartfelt drawings came from domestic and international students based in Australia, as well as those offshore in China, India, UK, and USA. 

Students across the University came together, from the Business School to Art & Design, Engineering, Law, Arts and Social Sciences and Built Environment.

This project successfully engaged international and residential students and fostered inclusion and connectivity. This was an important element of the event for Zhang. 

“International students here are really struggling at this time, dealing with racism while not having enough food or any money,” she said.

“It’s something I care deeply about, and everyone should too. I wanted to work with students on a project that anyone could contribute to, with no cost at all.

“I wanted to encourage students to look around them and see what it is that is keeping them positive. We need to connect and care for each other right now.”

The new, innovative project was open for students to drop in and out all afternoon and evening on Wednesday, accommodating their schedules and time zones.  

Students shared their creations on Instagram using designated hashtags and were able to connect and engage with each other during the process.

The project was run by the UNSW Art Unit, in partnership with the International Student Experience team.