Yen Linh Thai (she/her) is a multidisciplinary artist, illustrator and muralist based in Mississauga. Her work explores the whimsical and is largely inspired by stories and storytelling. She strives to make art that exists between two and three dimensions. In recent years, Linh has expanded her practice to public art projects, creating artworks inspired by the communities they live in.
Linh has created artwork for the Art Gallery of Burlington, Peel Children’s Aid Foundation, High Park Zoo, and the Art Gallery of Ontario. In 2021, she was awarded the MARTY (Mississauga Arts Award) in the Visual Arts – Emerging category. She holds a B.Sc (Honours) in Animal Biology & Studio Art from the University of Guelph (2016).
In Yen Linh Thai’s murals Growing Here and There, several of Linh’s favourite tropical fruits, known to grow in Vietnam and other regions, are featured. These fruits include măng cụt (mangosteen), mãng cầu and mãng cầu xiêm (sweetsop and soursop), trái vải (lychee), and me (tamarind). While these fruits are indeed delicious, they are also seasonal, making it rare for Linh to indulge in them. Even when they are in season, it remains a challenge to come across a high-quality batch, especially considering Linh’s lack of fruit-picking expertise compared to Linh’s mother.
The connection to Linh’s cultural heritage is established through food, and this lack of access to culturally significant foods leads Linh to associate it with the potential erosion of cultural knowledge. This link is further tied to the increasing vulnerability of various plant and animal species. Depictions of these at-risk species, including the red mulberry, western chorus frogs, red-headed woodpeckers, King rail, Louisiana shrike, and white wood aster—all of which inhabit the Halton region—are present in Linh’s artwork.
The Exclusively Inclusive murals, conceived by Linh, are intended to shed light on these lesser-known species. Additionally, the murals aim to forge connections between the local community and Linh’s Vietnamese heritage, all while celebrating both aspects. Linh’s mural is a tribute to the unconventional yet delectable foods that hold a special place in Linh’s heart, even if amusing names referred to them during Linh’s younger years. The hope is that this mural will spark viewers’ curiosity, encouraging them to explore new culinary experiences and take notice of the diverse array of creatures that share our environment.