Mindscapes Unveiled: AAPI Mental Health Artistry

Pictured Above: One of the 3D printed prescription bottle hybrid forms that will be featured in Chanika Svetvilas’ exhibition, Mindscapes Unveiled at the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton. Photo credit: Chanika Svetvilas. 



Princeton, NJ – Princeton’s Ida B. Wells Just Data Lab in collaboration with the Lewis Center for the Arts will present Mindscapes Unveiled, an exhibition by the Lab’s 2022-23 Artist-in-Residence Chanika Svetvilas. The exhibition is a culmination of Svetvilas’ year-long project, Anonymous Was the Data, which uplifts the individual lived experiences of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have a mental health difference or condition through mapping their survey data about healthcare access and stigma. The work will be on view September 8 through 28 in the Hurley Gallery at the Lewis Arts complex on the Princeton campus, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. 

A talk with the artist and opening reception will be held September 14 with a virtual panel discussion on September 21. The exhibition centers accessibility and a range of access services will be provided. All events are free and open to the public. Mindscapes Unveiled features the project, Anonymous Was the Data, which utilizes collected survey data to determine the shape of 3D printed prescription bottle hybrid forms. The exhibition also includes drawings, video, sculpture, and mixed media works.

“This exhibition is dedicated to the Princeton student lives that were lost to suicide in recent years,” said Svetvilas. “I also wanted to acknowledge the vast diversity of the Asian American population by affirming individual voices through a multimedia approach rather than making generalized conclusions from data.”

Svetvilas will discuss her work on September 14 beginning at 4:30 p.m. in the CoLab in the arts complex followed by a reception in the Hurley Gallery at 5:45 p.m. A virtual panel discussion, Fusion of Minds: Art, Data, and Collaboration, about the Anonymous Was the Data project, will be presented via Zoom on September 21 at 7:00 pm (EDT) and will include two project participants, Eileen Ramos and Grace Zhao; research associates, Julia Chou and Hannah Shin; and Svetvilas; and will be moderated by Jennifer Lee, founder and executive director of the Asian Americans with Disabilities Initiative.

Among the services to be provided to assure the exhibition is accessible and inclusive include audio descriptions of the work; sculptures that can be touched; video works that are captioned; docents available to help guide visitors through the exhibition; and some of the drawings will be interpreted as relief prints that can be touched. The Hurley Gallery is wheelchair accessible via elevator to the mezzanine level of the arts complex. A virtual exhibition will be available online for those who are unable to visit the exhibition in person at chanikasvetvilas.com/anonymous-was-the-data. The artist’s talk will be live captioned. The virtual panel discussion will feature American sign language (ASL) interpretation. Guests in need of other access accommodations are invited to contact the Lewis Center at LewisCenter@princeton.edu at least one week prior to the event date.

Svetvilas is an interdisciplinary artist and cultural worker whose practice focuses on mental health difference. Her work uses personal narratives as a way to challenge stereotypes in contemporary society and to create safe spaces. She has presented her work at the College Art Association Conference, the Society for Disability Studies Annual Conference, and the Pacific International Conference on Disability and Diversity. She has exhibited at the Denver International Airport, the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning, the Brooklyn Public Library, the Asian Arts Initiative, and the Wexner Center for the Arts, among others. Her work has been published in Disability Studies Quarterly, Studying Disability, Arts, and Culture: An Introduction by Petra Kuppers, and A Body You Can Talk To: An Anthology of Contemporary Disability, edited by Tennison S. Black. Svetvilas was born in Buffalo, New York, to parents who emigrated from Thailand. She earned her bachelor of science degree from Skidmore College and master of fine arts in interdisciplinary arts from Goddard College. 

The Ida B. Wells Just Data Lab is an initiative of Princeton’s Department of African American Studies created by Ruha Benjamin, the Alexander Stewart 1886 Professor of African American Studies. The program brings together students, educators, activists, and artists to develop a critical and creative approach to data conception, production, and circulation. To learn more about the Lab, visit thejustdatalab.com. The exhibition and related programming are cosponsored by Princeton’s Program in Asian American Studies, Center for Health and Wellbeing, Center for Science and Technology, Effron Center for the Study of America, Keller Center, Office of Disability Services, and Humanities Council.

Visit the Lewis Center website for more information on this event or any of the more than 100 performances, exhibitions, readings, screenings, and lectures presented annually by the Lewis Center for the Arts, most of them free.

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